This two-disc set is anchored by a collection of live recordings from the early '60s that were cut in a series of far-flung locations: Monterey, Paris, Copenhagen, Stockholm and an unspecified spot in Europe. The versions of "Epistrophy," "Blue Monk" and the like have been bootlegged for years -- and no wonder, since their sound quality is first-rate. Even better is an accompanying DVD that captures Monk, saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist Larry Gales and drummer Ben Riley during a 1965 gig at London's Marquee Club. Throughout renditions of favorites such as "Rhythm-A-Ning," Monk, wearing his trademark Russian fur hat, has a quizzical, oddly dazed look on his face, as if he can't quite believe what his hands are doing.
Monk fans know the feeling.