Thelonious Monk – Brilliant Corners [Mono] (Craft Recordings Small Batch Series Edition)
Remastered all-analog (AAA) from the original master tapes by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering.
BRILLIANT CORNERS (SMALL BATCH, ONE-STEP PRESSING)
Thelonious Monk’s Brilliant Corners is the fifth release in Craft Recordings’ acclaimed Small Batch vinyl series. A landmark title in the pianist’s celebrated catalog, the 1957 album not only introduces several Monk originals, but also features an all-star line-up of talent, including Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, and Paul Chambers. This Small Batch pressing is limited to just 4,000 copies worldwide.
As with all albums in the series, Brilliant Corners features lacquers cut from the original tapes (AAA) by Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI using Neotech’s VR900 compound. This one-step lacquer process (as opposed to the standard three-step process) allows for the utmost level of musical detail, clarity, and dynamics while reducing the amount of surface noise on the record. The limited nature of these pressings guarantees that each record is a true representation of the original lacquer and is as close as the listener can get to the original recording.
Each copy is individually numbered and encased in a foil-stamped, linen-wrapped slipcase featuring an acrylic inset of the original artwork. The vinyl disc – extractable through a unique, frictionless ribbon pull tab – is housed in a reproduction of the album’s original tip-on jacket from Riverside Records and protected by an archival-quality, anti-static, non-scratching inner sleeve. New liner notes from the GRAMMY® Award-winning music historian, journalist, and producer, Ashley Kahn complete the package.
Released in April 1957, Brilliant Corners was transformative for Monk’s career, delivering him a major comeback. The album was met with wide acclaim, including from DownBeat’s Nat Hentoff, who proclaimed it “Riverside’s most important modern jazz LP to date.” In 2003, the album was among the first 50 recordings chosen for the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry, while over the decades, Brilliant Corners has ranked regularly as an essential jazz title.
ABOUT BRILLIANT CORNERS
“A classic album should be both era- and genre-defining... Thelonious Monk, who released LPs for an 18-year run from 1952 to ’71, ultimately delivered more than one. But there’s no question which was his first true classic – the one that still checks off all the boxes and continues to serve as a worthy introduction to his musical legacy. It is Brilliant Corners.” - Ashley Kahn
Brilliant Corners was recorded during three sessions at New York’s Reeves Sound Studio, beginning on October 9, 1956, just one day before Monk’s 40th birthday. With Riverside co-founder Orrin Keepnews serving as producer, Monk recorded in two different quintet settings. The first featured tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins (then a fast-rising star), alto saxophonist Ernie Henry, bassist Oscar Pettiford, and bebop pioneer Max Roach on drums. Together, they debuted two tributes to the pianist’s friend and patron, Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter: “Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are” and “Pannonica” (featuring Monk on the celesta). Several days later, the group reconvened to record another Monk original, “Brilliant Corners.”
The final session, captured in December, featured Rollins and Roach, with the addition of bassist Paul Chambers and trumpeter Clark Terry. Monk led the musicians through “Bemsha Swing,” an original co-written with bassist Denzil Best, which debuted on record in 1952. Monk also delivered one solo performance, selecting Harry Barris’ classic ballad, “I Surrender, Dear.”
Released in April 1957, Brilliant Corners was transformative for Monk’s career, delivering him a major comeback. The album was met with wide acclaim, including from DownBeat’s Nat Hentoff, who proclaimed it “Riverside’s most important modern jazz LP to date.” In 2003, the album was among the first 50 recordings chosen for the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry, while over the decades,Brilliant Cornershas ranked regularly as an essential jazz title.
ABOUT SMALL BATCH
Craft Recordings is proud to present Small Batch, our carefully curated vinyl series devoted to creating the highest quality vinyl reissues of legendary recordings from our catalog.
Each edition is cut from its original analog tapes by Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI using Neotech’s VR900 compound and a one-step lacquer process—as opposed to the standard three-step process—allowing for the utmost level of musical detail, clarity, and dynamics while reducing the amount of surface noise on the record.
Since launching, the series has drawn accolades from both sides of the Atlantic. Speaking to The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, Marc Mickelson of Audio Beat hailed it as “[One] of the very best reissues I’ve come across. . . . It was created with extreme care, and it lives up to the goal of being closer in sound to master tape. It’s an LP with music and sound to savor.” Analog Planet’s Mark Smotroff called Relaxin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet “A wonderfully open-sounding record…I felt I was getting a nice sense of what the original recording – and the original records – sounded like, yet with the sonic benefits of Grundman’s mastering touch.” While Jamie Atkins at Record Collector praised John Coltrane’s Lush Life, noting, “Craft have done a superlative job; the packaging is elegant and the sound is flawless."
(Above description from CraftRecordings.com)
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