At the end of my interview with Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (Simon & Schuster), I asked him to send me a list of his top five releases by the artist. Instead, he sent me seven.
“These are not only great records,” Kelley explained, “but they tell a story and reveal changes in Monk’s playing over time, and represent different collaborations and settings—trio, solo, quartet, larger ensemble.”
"7 Essential Thelonious Monk Albums" By Robin D. G. Kelley
The Complete Blue Note Recordings (Blue Note 30363 4-CD boxed set)
Thelonious Monk plays Duke Ellington (Riverside CD OJC 2531-24-4)
Brilliant Corners (CD OJC-026-2)
Thelonious Himself (CD OJC 2531-254-2)
Monk’s Music (CD OJC-084-2)
Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
(Blue Note 35173)
Live at The It Club Complete (Columbia C2K 65288)
Bio: In addition to authoring Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (Simon & Schuster), among many other books, Robin D.G. Kelley is a Professor of History and American Studies at the University of Southern California and published journalist.