Thelonious Monk Live in France 1969 (Jazz Icons)
The video of Monk alone at the piano in a Paris studio is the jewel of the fifth Jazz Icons box set that many feared would not come. Taped with visual simplicity and excellent sound, he plays 12 pieces, all of them his compositions but “Don’t Blame Me” and a rollicking “Nice Work if You Can Get It.” Except for that exultant conclusion, the concert has an air of reflective, almost Brahmsian, gravity. His harmonies can be breathtaking. The bonuses—unedited documentary footage and an attempt to interview Monk—are curiosities. The music is essential.