## 1-4 - Recorded in Hackensack, NJ, May 11, 1954
## 5-7 - Recorded in New York; November 13, 1953.
The position of legendary figure is usually reserved for a deceased musician who has played two decades before. If usually requires this posthumous status and span of time, for the various stories concerning him to grow into a legend but it took a very much alive Thelonious Monk only five years to surround himself with an air of mystery and receive the title "High Priest of Bebop" in the Forties, Perhaps this element of weird glamour prevented many people from enjoying Monk's music to the fullest extent, Certainly he is always low man on the totem pole whenever the triumvirate of the founding fathers of bop is evaluated. This is due in part, no doubt, to the greater solo prowess of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, but Thelonious' contributions in time, chord patterns and the original lines resulting from them were unjustly minimized. Actually they were the basis for much of the jazz of the Forties and Fifties.
Today he stands as an individual, a highly original musician who is the mentor of many young musicians in New York and the influence of countless others all over the globe. In his writing and playing, he consistently proves his right to the often misapplied title of creator.
November 13, 1953 was a Friday. At WOR Studios preparations were being made for the recording date that would soon commence. Julius Watkins, who had been called in as a last minute replacement for an ailing Ray Copeland, warmed up in muted tones. Percy Heath and Willie Jones made separate entrances and soon the scheduled two o'clock starting time was clearly indicated by the studio wall-clock (a constant visual magnet at most recording sessions) without there being a sign of Thelonious Monk or Sonny Rollins. Someone half-laughed, "Friday the thirteenth", and there followed much pacing, more clock watching and a few phone calls. In the neighborhood of three o'clock, Monk and Sonny arrived. Their cab had rammed the rear of a motorcycle, causing no physical injury but considerably delaying the affairs of the afternoon and adding greatly to the usual anxieties of recording. From then on it was a battle against the red second hand with the fact that Julius had hot seen the music before, another handicap. Any accomplished musician should have no trouble sight-reading and Julius didn't but there was the matter of getting the feel of the tune and its chord changes which is something never to be achieved with celerity, unless by someone of Charlie Parker's ilk.
Despite the obstacles, three tunes were cut with the third ending just before the studio closed for the day.
Friday The Thirteenth, which is nol heard here, will be re-issued at a later date.
LET'S CALL THIS a languid, rolling line with solos of extended length by Sonny, Julius and Thelonious.
THINK OF ONE is opened solo wise by Monk, followed by Sonny and Julius. Then Monk chords another bit with Percy coming through strongly. Both takes are presented here. In take 2. the line is played better. Take I, has superior solos.
The spring date found Monk with an entirely new personnel surrounding him.
From the ranks of Count Basle's band, tenorman Frank Foster brought his lilting swing and hard sound. Frank is a devotee of Sonny Stitt but not a slavish imitator. His vibrant solos which stand out in Count's band are even more effective in the small group. He is not like certain big band musicians who become fish out of water when asked to play sustained choruses.
Ray Copeland, who had missed the previous quintet session, was on the scene for this one. He had been associated with Monk before but this was his first important recording date. His style is a happy combination of Dizzy, blues and undertones of swing with a fresh sweetness that is never cloying.
Art Blakey, one of the all-time greats of jazz history, has been Monk's rhythmic partner on numerous records and in person appearances. Monk's music leaves the openings that Art's special grammer seems to punctuate so well.
One of the solid rocks in contemporary rhythm, Curly Russell rounds out the group with his big sound and articulate notes.
WE SEE is a Monk original that moves along with power by Blakey and Russell. Monk opens the solo proceedings followed by Foster and Copeland. Then Frank comes back with some after thoughts.
SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES was. like Ray Copeland, expected but unheard at the Friday the thirteenth session. Monk has fashioned a simple, poignant arrangement in which the band plays organ and he weaves his solo statement of the melody through the loom of their sound. Then it becomes property of the trio with Monk the lone solo voice. The band comes in again briefly for the close.
LOCOMOTIVE is a distant relation to the "train blues" of the past insofar as its rhythmic figure not'its chord progressions. Monk, Copeland and Foster solo with Ray and Frank negotiating some effective double-timing during each one's solo with the help of Art Blakey. Thelonious comes back for a very rhytmic bit with Art utilizing various sounds to comment with.
HACKENSACK is a tribute to engineer Rudy Van Gelder and that particular section of New Jersey where his studio is located. Monk plays with wit and drive. Then Frank Foster best illustrates those qualities I described earlier. Ray Copeland keeps it right in the swinging vein and Art Blakey plays asolothatwillliftyourightoutofyourseat.
- Ira Gitler (from cover text) (All Music Guide)