October 9 and 15, 1956
December 7, 1956



jazz > bebop


“The alpha and omega of post-World War II American jazz. No serious jazz collection should be without it.” – Lindsay Planer, All Music Guide

Album Tracks:

  1. Brilliant Corners
  2. Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are
  3. Pannonica
  4. I Surrender, Dear
  5. Bemsha Swing

Total Running Time:


Sales (in millions):




Singles/Hit Songs:

  • none


Brilliant Corners

Thelonious Monk


“Few composers or improvisers can match the originality of pianist Thelonious Monk.” AZ “Although he created a surprisingly limited body of compositions, his impact on the vocabulary and canon of jazz is second to none.” AZ “Monk’s thorny and challenging original pieces would form a basis of the modern jazz repertoire;” NRR he “gave the bebop movement, and jazz in total, a new sound that was totally modern.” AZ

Brilliant Corners is a triumph of both performance and conception.” AZ “There is an inescapable freshness and vitality saturated into every measure of every song.” AMG He “displays his compositional genius and idiosyncratic, but indeed, brilliant, piano style” NRR via a “playful but always purposeful choice of skewed melodies and interrupted rhythm patterns.” AZ

“It’s easy to write Monk’s ferocity and Forrest Gump-esque ingenuity off as gimmick or quirkiness. What cannot be dismissed is Monk’s ability to translate emotions into the language of music, as in the freedom and abandon he allows through [saxophonist] Sonny Rollins’ and [drummer] Max Roach’s mesmerizing solos in Brilliant Corners.” AMG “Roach’s timpani interjections supply an off-balanced sonic surrealism while progressing the rhythm in and out of the holes provided by Monk’s jackrabbit leads.” AMG

“The title track, which centers the collection, is one of Monk’s most unconventional pieces, skirting whole-tone, chromatic and Lydian scales.” AZ Meanwhile, “the band stretches out on…Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-areAZ and Bemsha Swing. The latter “reveals what might be considered an accident of ecstasy” AMG as bassist Paul Chambers and trumpeter Clark Terry “provide a timeless balance between support and being able to further the cause musically.” AMG

“The childlike innocence evoked by Monk’s incorporation of the celeste during the achingly beautiful ode Pannonica raises the emotional bar several degrees. Perhaps more pointed, however, is the impassioned I Surrender, Dear – the only solo performance on the album.” AMG

“The passage of time makes it all the more difficult to imagine any other musicians bearing the capacity to support Monk with such ironic precision.” AMGBrilliant Corners may well be considered the alpha and omega of post-World War II American jazz. No serious jazz collection should be without it.” AMG

Review Source(s):

Related DMDB Link(s):

Video about the making of the album:

Click on box above to check out the DMDB on Facebook.

Last updated December 23, 2011.