A 1955 album comprising Monk’s recordings of well-known songs by Ellington. Monk’s first album to be released by the Riverside label was recorded by Rudy Van Gelder in July of that year. The album was reissued by Riverside in 2007.
The album was the result of a compromise between Monk and his new label. Although Monk occasionally performed covers, he primarily played his own compositions. He had recorded several albums of originals during 1953-54 for Prestige. However, there was a perception (particularly among music critics) that Monk’s own music was “too difficult” for the mainstream record-buying public, and his Prestige albums sold poorly.
After buying out Monk’s contract for just over $100, Riverside convinced Monk to record an entire album of Ellington tunes. Monk Plays Ellington was followed by another album of standards by other composers, The Unique Thelonious Monk . Both albums were well received by critics, although they sold only moderately, and ironically it was his third Riverside LP Brilliant Corners which comprised of almost completely original material, which became both a commercial and critical success.
- Thelonious Monk – Piano
- Oscar Pettiford – Bass
- Kenny Clarke – Drums