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Brilliant Corners is a studio album by American jazz musician Thelonious Monk. It was his third album for Riverside Records, and the first, for this label, to include his own compositions. The complex title track required over a dozen takes in the studio.
The album was recorded in three sessions in late 1956 with two different quintets. "Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-Are" and "Pannonica", on which Monk played the celeste, were recorded on October 9 with saxophonists Ernie Henry and Sonny Rollins, bassist Oscar Pettiford, and drummer Max Roach. The former composition was titled as a phonetic rendering of Monk's exaggerated pronunciation of "Blue Bolivar Blues", which referred to the Bolivar Hotel where Pannonica de Koenigswarter resided; Monk had met her during his first trip to Europe in 1954.
According to Down Beat magazine, Brilliant Corners was the most critically acclaimed album of 1957. Nat Hentoff, the magazine's editor, gave it five stars in a contemporary review and called it "Riverside's most important modern jazz LP to date." Jazz writer David H. Rosenthal later called it a "classic" hard bop session. Music critic Robert Christgau said that, along with his 1958 live album Misterioso, Brilliant Corners represents Monk's artistic peak. In his five-star review of the album, Allmusic's Lindsay Planer wrote that it "may well be considered the alpha and omega of post-World War II American jazz. No serious jazz collection should be without it." Awarding a maximum four-star rating, The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings included the album in its suggested “core collection” of essential recordings.
- Brilliant Corners - 7:42
- Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are - 13:24
- Pannonica - 8:50
- I Surrender, Dear (Harry Barris) - 5:25
- Bemsha Swing (Thelonious Monk, Denzil Best) - 7:42