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Thelonious Monk – Monk’s Dream (Limited Edition UltraDisc One-Step 45rpm Vinyl 2LP)
Mastered from the Original Master Tapes with Mobile Fidelity’s One-Step Process: Monk’s Dream UD1S 180g 45RPM 2LP Box Set Is the Definitive Version of Thelonious Monk’s Best-Selling Album
Luxurious Packaging Includes Opulent Box, Foil-Stamped Jackets, MoFi SuperVinyl LPs Pressed at RTI: Keepsake Edition Strictly Limited to 6,000 Numbered Copies (Limit Two Per Customer)
Monk’s Columbia Records Debut Bursts with Blues, Stride, Gospel, and Swing: Music Conveys a Joyous, Boundless, Exhilarating Freedom That Encourages Repeat Listening
The historical import, musical genius, and timeless artistry of Monk’s Dream can be best appreciated by first placing the record in the context of its era. In short, Thelonious Monk’s joyful Columbia Records debut triggered a domino effect of mainstream attention, best-selling success, and unstinting respect that led him to become one of only six jazz musicians to ever grace the cover of Time – then America’s most widely read weekly magazine. Couple the extraordinary feat with the fact the British Invasion and Beatlemania were already in full swing, and the cultural significance – not to mention its place in the jazz canon – of Monk’s Dream skyrockets to near-unthinkable heights.
Strictly limited to 6,000 numbered copies, pressed on MoFi SuperVinyl at RTI, and mastered from the original master tapes, Mobile Fidelity’s ultra-hi-fi UltraDisc One-Step 180g 45RPM 2LP collector’s edition pays tribute to the 1963 album’s merit and enhances the music for generations to come. Surpassing the sonics of every other prior version, this spectacular collector’s edition strips away any remaining film and limiting ceilings to provide a clear, transparent, and up-close view of a set that inspired DownBeat to award the record a five-star review in which critic Pete Welding correctly proclaimed it “a stunning reaffirmation of [Monk’s] powers as a performer and composer.”
The lavish packaging and gorgeous presentation of the UD1S Monk’s Dream pressing befit its extremely select status. Housed in a deluxe box, it features special foil-stamped jackets and faithful-to-the-original graphics that illuminate the splendor of the recording. No expense has been spared. Aurally and visually, this UD1S reissue exists as a curatorial artifact meant to be preserved, pored over, touched, and examined. It is made for discerning listeners that prize sound quality and production, and who desire to fully immerse themselves in the art – and everything involved with the album, from the images to the finishes.
Such potency reveals itself as all the more obvious on a vinyl set afforded full-range reproduction of the multi-layered complexities, challenging tonalities, and nontraditional rhythms that conspire to place Monk’s finest outings in a league of their own. Accurately portraying the complete scale of a piano remains one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish on a recording. And yet the sound of Monk’s instrument here captures its wide-bandwidth frequency response and inner cavity, allowing notes to individually register all the while pairing with succeeding and decaying chords in seamless fashion. The presence, tones, and contributions of the colleagues surrounding Monk – tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist John Ore, and drummer Frankie Dunlop – register, too, with a lifelike realism rivaled only by sitting in an intimate club.
Bountifully benefitting from the newfound immediacy, clarity, and ink-black backgrounds on Mobile Fidelity’s UD1S release are five originals and three covers that demonstrate the boundless vistas of Monk’s vision, aptitude, and inventiveness. As acclaimed scribe Gary Giddins wrote while reminding us the North Carolina native’s motto was “jazz is freedom,” Monk’s Dream exposes his “dauntless concentration, impressive faith, and an almost childlike glee.” These traits spark works such as the spry interpretation of “Body and Soul,” which Monk handles sans accompaniment, and guide the quirky angles that snake around and shape “Blue Bolivar Blues,” the title of which refers to a Manhattan hotel.
Throughout, Monk’s Dream conveys an exhilarating freedom that mirrors the improvisational twists, dissonant techniques, and melodic turns Monk embraced not only in the studio (and on the stage) but in everyday life. Considered by some to be too idiosyncratic for his own good, his flawless craftsmanship, underlying irreverence, and deep-seated knowledge of swing, stride, blues, and gospel raise this 1963 album to mythical levels – and let the inner contours, deliberate phrasings, and urgent solos on tracks like “Bye-Ya” and the title cut exhibit new details, themes, and directions with each listen.
Indeed, above everything, Monk’s Dream encourages constant exploration and repeat plays. Always varying and forever bursting with fresh ideas, it refuses to stand still, instead buzzing with the energy of a city celebrating its internal commotion and dancing to the influences that made its current modernism possible. Monk was just decades ahead of everyone else in figuring out how this seemingly incongruent yet delightfully cool tango sounded. Fortunately for the rest of us, he documented it and called it Monk’s Dream.
“Just as the needle dropped, so did our jaws; and within the first seconds, we knew we were witnessing something special, read magical…man, was that all a dream?”
More About Mobile Fidelity UltraDisc One-Step and Why It Is Superior
Instead of utilizing the industry-standard three-step lacquer process, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s new UltraDisc One-Step (UD1S) uses only one step, bypassing two processes of generational loss. While three-step processing is designed for optimum yield and efficiency, UD1S is created for the ultimate in sound quality. Just as Mobile Fidelity pioneered the UHQR (Ultra High-Quality Record) with JVC in the 1980s, UD1S again represents another state-of-the-art advance in the record-manufacturing process. MFSL engineers begin with the original master tapes and meticulously cut a set of lacquers. These lacquers are used to create a very fragile, pristine UD1S stamper called a “convert.” Delicate “converts” are then formed into the actual record stampers, producing a final product that literally and figuratively brings you closer to the music. By skipping the additional steps of pulling another positive and an additional negative, as done in the three-step process used in standard pressings, UD1S produces a final LP with the lowest noise floor possible today. The removal of the additional two steps of generational loss in the plating process reveals tremendous amounts of extra musical detail and dynamics, which are otherwise lost due to the standard copying process. The exclusive nature of these very limited pressings guarantees that every UD1S pressing serves as an immaculate replica of the lacquer sourced directly from the original master tape. Every conceivable aspect of vinyl production is optimized to produce the most perfect record album available today.
Developed by NEOTECH and RTI, MoFi SuperVinyl is the most exacting-to-specification vinyl compound ever devised. Analog lovers have never seen (or heard) anything like it. Extraordinarily expensive and extremely painstaking to produce, the special proprietary compound addresses two specific areas of improvement: noise floor reduction and enhanced groove definition. The vinyl composition features a new carbonless dye (hold the disc up to the light and see) and produces the world’s quietest surfaces. This high-definition formula also allows for the creation of cleaner grooves that are indistinguishable from the original lacquer. MoFi SuperVinyl provides the closest approximation of what the label’s engineers hear in the mastering lab.