Gerry Mulligan & Thelonious Monk

Mulligan Meets Monk

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New York, August 1957. Produced by Orrin Keepnews. Thelonious Monk was a creator in the true sense of the word. The current LP includes one of his rare albums that could fit within the standard formula of “jazz star 1 meets jazz star  2”.  

The pianist seldom shared the bill with other stars or accepted playing second fiddle to anyone. Two rare exceptions include his two 1950 sides backing singer Frankie Passions (“Especially to You” and “Nobody Knows”), and his 1950 studio session backing Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. But Monk is the leader on most of his recordings, and in a way, he was also the leading voice on this meeting with Gerry Mulligan.  

Most of the tunes played here are compositions by Monk, with the exception of the standard “Sweet and Lovely” - a favourite of Monk’s, who recorded it dozens of times - and Charlie Shavers’ “Undecided”, which could well have been Gerry’s only call for the evening. Although it remains clearly recognizable, the latter tune was slightly modified here, retitled “Decidedly” and attributed to Mulligan himself. No other recording of “Undecided” by Monk is known to exist.  

“'Round Midnight” was a Mulligan request for the session, as he wanted to record the song with its composer. It is clearly one of the best tracks on the whole album. However, the fact that no new compositions by Monk were recorded on this date seems to indicate that Monk always preferred to make his own albums, and didn’t dedicate too much time to such experiments as Mulligan Meets Monk, which he may have regarded as a “commercial” venture. 


‘Round Midnight / Rhythm-A-Ning / Sweet And Lovely / Decidedly / Straight, No Chaser / I Mean You / Straight, No Chaser [Alternate Version]