Along with Thelonious in Action, which was also recorded during the Five Spot gigs in '58, Misterioso introduced the quartet formula that was to become a Monk staple. Here the pianist is joined by Johnny Griffin's tenor sax, bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik, and Roy Haynes on drums. Art Blakey plays drums on the last of the three bonus tracks on the Jazz Classic reissue. Griffin, although he may not be the saxophonist most often associated with Monk's quartet, is often praised for the speed of his playing and shows what he can do in lengthy solo upon lengthy solo, often throwing in a familiar quotation or two. Indeed, there are times when one begins to wonder where Monk has gone.
The album has nine tracks. All the songs are Monk originals except for "Just a Gigolo," which the pianist serves up as a kind of solo palate cleanser. The one new piece on the album is "Blues Five Spot" in which each of the quartet's members takes the spotlight for a solo. Everything else on the album was familiar work that Monk had recorded earlier in his career.
Familiar, perhaps, but Misterioso was and still is some of his finest and best known work. Additional material in the set included "Nutty," a really nice take on "Let's Cool One," and "In Walked Bud." The bonus tracks adding about 28 minutes of music are "Evidence," "'Round Midnight" and a medley of "Bye-Ya" and "Epistrophy."