Thelonious Monk – Genius of Modern Music (Blue Note Classic Series)
First issued in 1951, Genius of Modern Music gathers a dozen of jazz pianist Thelonious Monk’s earliest
recordings. While a title this bold may seem like marketing or hyperbole, it is 100% accurate.
Genius of Modern Music was the Monk’s first LP, and while the songs it contains had been previously
released as singles, it was many listeners’ introduction to Monk. There was no learning curve for Monk.
All of his signature sounds – sideways playing with odd chord progressions and an off-kilter feel – are on
Furthermore, the majority of the songs here are numbers that Monk returned to time and again
throughout his five-decade career. “Ruby My Dear,” “Epistrophy,” “Well You Needn’t,” “Misterioso”
and, of course, “Round About Midnight.” If these titles aren’t familiar, their melodies certainly are. In
addition to Monk’s numerous adaptations, these songs have been covered by the likes of Sonny Rollins,
Charlie Hunter, Bobby Watson, Tito Puento, McCoy Tyner, Roy Hargrove and literally scores of other
prominent jazz figures.
The compositions on Genuis of Modern Music were incredibly groundbreaking at the time, helping
establish be bop and transforming the genre. Decades later, they are the building blocks of jazz; songs all
aspiring jazz musicians learn and improvise from.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of Genius of Modern Music. Building a serious music
collection without this album is like trying to text on a phone that only recognizes 21 letters in the
English language. -Joel Francis