The first Monk album I bought, when I was sixteen or perhaps slightly younger, was “Solo Monk.” This record had a profound effect on my musical taste. Monk’s take on the stride tradition is austere and even monotonous, but at the same time fresh and witty. The contrast between the bouncy, corny sounding standards like “I’m Confessing” and “Dinah” with originals like “Monk’s Point” and “Ruby, My Dear” was quite stimulating, as was his use of dissonance and rubato. If I had encountered the album at a later date I might have concurred with the consensus that views this as a perfunctory recording: “He delivers these pieces indifferently, as if it were a duty and an imposition” (Thomas Fitterling). At the time, however, I was not yet familiar either with Monk’s music or with standards like “These Foolish Things” or “Everything Happens to Me.” Perhaps Monk’s approach to the music does betray a certain sense of tedium, yet my fresh ears heard this as sardonic, melancholy humor. I would still defend my initial opinion: although I have not listened to this music for many years, I can still hear it in my mind’s ear as I heard it then.