It is the musical equivalent of discovering a new Mount Everest: last February, while digitizing a lot of old Voice of America broadcast tapes, Library of Congress archivist Larry Appelbaum discovered several boxes labeled CARNEGIE HALL JAZZ 1957. One of the boxes had an additional label: T MONK. Listening to the tape, Appelbaum recognized the playing of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane and quickly verified with Coltrane biographer Lewis Porter that this was a rumor made real: a lost recording of a concert at Carnegie Hall by Monk's quartet when Coltrane was the sax player. It is one of the most legendary yet thinly documented partnerships in jazz history--and here was more than an hour of music by the quartet. Not only that, the recording quality was pristine, and the performances were everything you would expect from two geniuses who had been honing their sound every night for five months at New York's Five Spot Cafe.
Now released as "Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall," this landmark concert kicks off with a ravishing, lyrical Monk-Coltrane duet on "Monk's Mood," then just keeps getting better through six Monk originals, including a searing version of "Epistrophy" and one standard, "Sweet and Lovely." If ever an album had all the earmarks of an instant classic, this is it.