As noted in Neil Tesser’s new liner notes, Misterioso was recorded live near the end of the Thelonious Monk Quartet’s six month residency at New York’s Five Spot Café in 1958. The original six tune album, plus three previously-released bonus tracks, has been remastered and sounds astoundingly clear considering its age. Part of the Original Jazz Classics series, Misterioso is a stone cold classic album that runs a generous 75 minutes, including the bonus tunes.
The quartet was in fine form during these summer dates. Tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, well into his recording career as a bandleader, absolutely steals the show on a consistent basis. Check out his marvelous unaccompanied solo smack dab in the middle of “Let’s Cool One.” Generally under-celebrated when compared to other greats of era, despite a long and storied career, Griffin turns in complex and unpredictable work throughout the album.
“In Walked Bud” features a cooking solo by bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik. The single non-Monk tune “Just a Gigolo” lasts just two minutes before seguing into the album’s title track. Monk’s piano work is typically, confoundingly brilliant, but again it’s damn near overshadowed by Griffin’s sterling tenor soloing. The three bonus cuts practically constitute an album of their own, with two being 10-minute-plus workouts, “Evidence” and “Bye-Ya/Epistrophy.” The former allows drummer Roy Haynes to shine with a stuttering, jagged solo. The latter finds Haynes replaced–for the only time on the album–by Art Blakey. A swinging, mid-tempo run through Monk’s immortal “’Round Midnight” rounds out the bonus material.
Orrin Keepnews’ original liner notes for Misterioso are reproduced in the booklet, along with the aforementioned Neil Tesser essay.