I recall a conversation I had with my brother-in-law some 10 or 15 years ago during which he told me that the music on my playlist at the time was almost all released between my birth and my tenth birthday. He was right, too. It was all progressive rock, all the time. He didn’t say as much, but I got the impression that he thought I was in a bit of a rut. I still don’t think I was. It was just where I was, you know?

We seldom stay in one place for long, though.

Yesterday I received a delivery from Amazon and I can safely say that almost none of the eight CDs in my order were released during the first ten years of my life. Rather, they were first made available before I was a twinkle in my parents’ eyes.

The titles included in this box set are Monk’s Dream, Criss-Cross, It’s Monk’s Time, Monk, Straight No Chaser, and Underground.

The first is a newly packaged box set of six albums. It includes all the Thelonious Monk Quartet releases on the Columbia label. They span the years from 1963 to 1968. An attractive packaging decision was to have the small cardboard envelope holding each CD printed to mimic the original LP sleeve. Even the text on the back of the sleeve is there, though it’s quite small because of the diminutive size of the CD as compared to the vinyl LP. I’ve read of this type of packaging before, but these are the first examples that I’ve seen up close. I might be concerned about wear to the sleeves and discs if I played the CDs often, but I’ve already ripped all the discs so there’s no need to remove them from the sleeves to hear them.

The box set came out earlier this year and I’d read about it on the Stereophile site last week in an article by Fred Kaplan. He wrote,

The discs in the new boxed set are exactly the same as those in the 2002-03 reissues (which were mastered by Mark Wilder and Seth Foster). That is, they all sound very good, and there’s not a disappointing album, musically, in the bunch.


Oh, and one more thing: while we’re waiting for the 45rpm vinyl reissues of these albums, which will sell for $50 per title, the Sony boxed-set — all six albums — retails for $39.95. It’s a bargain.

That was enough for me. I love Monk’s music, and I don’t have very much of it, so this was a gimme. Later listening to it, I completely agree with Kaplan … they do sound very good. The box is certainly a bargain, especially since I have no interest in the vinyl releases. Amazon.ca has it for just $35.09 and the shipping is free.

In addition, I got two earlier studio releases: the self-titled Thelonious Monk Trio from 1954, and Thelonious Monk & Sonny Rollins from 1955, both recorded for the Prestige label.

Unlike the albums included in the box set, these two contain no bonus tracks so they clock in at barely over a half-hour each while none of the discs in the box are less than an hour. These two also don’t sound nearly as good, but they’re older and I find it extremely interesting to gain an insight into the earlier material and performances.

It’s always a good day when something arrives from Amazon, and this was especially true yesterday!