Thelonious Monk Trio is an album by American jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk. It was originally released in 1954 as Monk's first proper studio album and has been re-released numerous times, occasionally under the title Monk's Moods and with different track orders.
The album features his earliest recordings for the Prestige label performed with Gerry Mapp and Art Blakey or Max Roach, and one track with Percy Heath replacing Mapp. The album contains the earliest recorded version of the jazz standards "Blue Monk" and "Bemsha Swing".
Thelonious Monk Trio follows the release of Monk's two Genius of Modern Music compilations—the first volume in 1951 and the second volume in 1952— and is his first proper studio album. It has been re-released numerous times on different formats usually with its original title, although occasionally as Monk's Moods. On some of its re-releases it has had a track listing order different from the original, which opens with "Little Rootie Tootie". Thelonious Monk Trio features the first recorded performances of "Blue Monk" and "Bemsha Swing".
Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. of Allmusic called the album "intimate, intense, and inspired ... 35 minutes of professional musicians practicing their craft", and wrote that, although they were "pieced together from three different sessions," the recordings' "small settings ... allow the necessary space for Monk's explorations, which conjure up images of a mathematician working out geometric patterns on the keyboard."BBC Music's Charles de Ledesma commented that "the various personnel make little difference to the overall effect – Monk throughout offers a sumptious flow of melody, punctuation, nuance and charm."
Chris May of All About Jazz dubbed Thelonious Monk Trio "immortal, stratospheric music ... amongst the most eternal of his albums" and stated, "At this period like no other, Monk's rhythmic attack packed the power of an express train."Sputnikmusic's Alex Robertson said that "even when Monk gets nutty, as on the brutally virtuosic 'Trinkle, Tinkle,' the album's appeal lies not in his 'sabotage' of popular music but his ability to turn it into something invigoratingly weird, two approaches often conflated when looking back on the work of an inventive musician."MSN Music's Robert Christgau gave the album an "A+", indicating "a record of sustained beauty, power, insight, groove, and/or googlefritz that has invited and repaid repeated listenings in the daily life of someone with 500 other CDs to get to."
All compositions by Thelonious Monk, except where noted.
- "Little Rootie Tootie" - 3:06
- "Sweet and Lovely" (Gus Amheim, Jules LeMare, Harry Tobias) - 3:33
- "Bye-Ya" - 2:46
- "Monk's Dream" - 3:07
- "Trinkle, Tinkle" - 2:49
- "These Foolish Things" (Harry Link, Holt Marvell, Jack Strachey) - 2:46
- "Blue Monk" - 7:39
- "Just a Gigolo" (Julius Brammer, Irving Caesar, Leonello Casucci) - 3:00
- "Bemsha Swing" - 3:10
- "Reflections" - 2:48
- Recorded in New York City on October 15 (tracks 1-4), December 18 (tracks 5, 6, 9 & 10), 1952 and September 22, 1954 (tracks 7 & 8)
- Recording engineer: Rudy van Gelder (tracks 7&8 ) & unknown (tracks 1-6, 9-10)
- Thelonious Monk - piano
- Percy Heath - bass (track 7)
- Art Blakey - drums (tracks 1-4, 9)
- Gerry Mapp - bass (tracks 1-6, 9-10)
- Max Roach - drums (tracks 5-6, 9 & 10)
- at Discogs (list of releases)