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Criss-Cross (album)

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Title: Criss-Cross (album)  
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Subject: Thelonious Monk, Criss-cross
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Criss-Cross (album)

Thelonious Monk
Released 1963
Recorded November 6, 1962 - March 29, 1963 in New York City
Genre Jazz
Length 35:19
Label Columbia
Producer Teo Macero
Thelonious Monk chronology

Monk's Dream
Criss Cross
Monk in Tokyo
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
All About Jazz (favorable)[1]
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]

Criss-Cross is Thelonious Monk's 26th album and his second with Columbia Records.[3] The album consists of previously released Monk compositions that were re-recorded and re-released under Columbia Records by the Thelonious Monk Quartet.


Monk was known for his uniquely playful jazz style that centered around playing notes that did not always correspond to the particular chord or key that being played by the rest of the band. Before entering the studio to record this album, a journalist reportedly asked Monk if he would be recording a new solo rendition of the classic song "Don't Blame Me", to which he replied: "Maybe, it depends on how I feel when I get there." Monk recorded his solo version of "Don't Blame Me" right after arriving at the studio.

Criss-Cross is a swing-influenced bop album featuring complex melodies and harmonies, Monk's unique style of stride piano, and his unique ideas on pitch qualities for his improvisations. The title track, "Criss-Cross", is one of his more critically acclaimed compositions. For this recording, Monk cut out two bars from the original music in order to speed up the overall feel of the piece. It also features Monk's highly personal use of rhythmic displacement. "Eronel" is a distinctly bop tune that is fast-paced and showcases Monk's virtuousic stride-style piano playing. The track "Crepuscule with Nellie" was a piece Monk had written for his wife.

Criss-Cross is an album in Monk's career that represents his slow decline throughout the late 1960s until his death. Rumors of mental illness were common, especially considering his erratic and playful style of improvisation. At this point in his career, Monk released very few new compositions, mostly just re-workings of old tunes for big-label release under Columbia Records.[4]

The track "Pannonica" is available only on CD re-issue and named for Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter.

Track listing

All songs composed by Thelonious Monk unless otherwise noted.

  1. "Hackensack" – 4:12
  2. "Tea for Two" (Vincent Youmans, Irving Caesar) – 3:46
  3. "Criss Cross" – 4:52
  4. "Eronel" (Monk, Idrees Sulieman, Sadik Hakim) – 4:29
  5. "Rhythm-A-Ning" – 3:53
  6. "Don't Blame Me" (Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields) – 7:04
  7. "Think of One" – 5:17
  8. "Crepuscule with Nellie" – 2:45

CD reissue bonus track:

  1. "Pannonica" – 6:46


Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1963 The Billboard 200 127


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