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Criss-Cross is Thelonious Monk's critically acclaimed second studio release for Columbia Records.[2] The album consists of previously released Monk compositions that were re-recorded for Columbia by the Thelonious Monk Quartet.

Criss Cross Monk.jpg
Studio album by
RecordedNovember 6, 1962 - March 29, 1963 in New York City
ProducerTeo Macero
Thelonious Monk chronology
Monk's Dream
Monk in Tokyo
Professional ratings
Review scores
Down Beat
(Original Lp release)
4.5/5 stars[1]
Allmusic4/5 stars[2]
All About Jazz(favorable)[3]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide4/5 stars[4]


Criss-Cross was recorded during and shortly after the sessions for Monk's first Columbia LP, Monk's Dream. The quartet of musicians that appear on the album had been playing together for four years at the time of the recording sessions, and was thus one of the longer-lived bands of Monk's career. Allmusic's Lindsay Planer called the album "some of the finest work that Monk ever did in the studio with his '60s trio and quartet."[2] The critical and popular success of the group during this period led to Monk's appearance on the cover of Time Magazine in February 1964. It later became known that as Monk's international profile was reaching its apex in the mid-1960s, his manic depressive episodes were getting more severe and his composing output was diminished.[5]

Criss-Cross and Monk's other Columbia recordings have been criticized for revisiting well-worn material and offering few new compositions or new perspectives on older works. However, many retrospective reviews for CD reissues of the material have argued that the Columbia recordings have their own virtues, documenting a well-rehearsed and creative band that had thoroughly absorbed the material in a way that some of Monk's 1940s and 1950s studio bands were unable to.[6]

Criss-Cross is a post-bop album featuring complex melodies and harmonies, Monk's unique style of stride piano, and his unique ideas on pitch qualities for his improvisations. The title track, "Criss-Cross", is one of his more critically acclaimed compositions. For this recording, Monk cut out two bars from the original music in order to speed up the overall feel of the piece. It also features Monk's highly personal use of rhythmic displacement.

Before entering the studio to record this album, a journalist reportedly asked Monk if he would be recording a new solo rendition of the classic song "Don't Blame Me", to which he replied: "Maybe, it depends on how I feel when I get there."[7] Monk recorded his solo version of "Don't Blame Me" right after arriving at the studio. "Eronel" is a distinctly bop tune that is fast-paced and showcases Monk's virtuosic piano playing. The track "Crepuscule with Nellie" is a piece Monk wrote for his wife.

The track "Pannonica" is available only on CD re-issue and named for Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter. Koenigswarter was Monk's friend and patron, and she wrote the liner notes for the original LP. [8]

Track listingEdit

All tracks composed by Thelonious Monk except where noted.

Side One

  1. "Hackensack" – 4:12
  2. "Tea for Two" (Vincent Youmans, Irving Caesar) – 3:46
  3. "Criss Cross" – 4:52
  4. "Eronel" (Monk, Idrees Sulieman, Sadik Hakim) – 4:29

Side Two

  1. "Rhythm-A-Ning" – 3:53
  2. "Don't Blame Me" (Retake 1) (Jimmy McHugh, Dorothy Fields) – 7:04
  3. "Think of One" – 5:17
  4. "Crepuscule with Nellie" – 2:45

1993 CD reissue bonus trackEdit

  1. "Pannonica" (Take 2) – 6:46

2003 CD reissue additional bonus tracksEdit

  1. "Coming On The Hudson" (Take 3) – 7:31
  2. "Tea For Two" (Take 9) – 5:12
  3. "Eronel" (Take 3) – 5:59


Track 10 first released on the 1963 Columbia compilation LP The Giants of Jazz.[9] Tracks 11 and 12 previously unreleased.



Year Chart Position
1963 The Billboard 200 127


  1. ^ Down Beat: October 24, 1963 Vol. 30, No.28
  2. ^ a b c Allmusic review
  3. ^ All About Jazz review
  4. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 145. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Liner notes on original LP back cover.
  8. ^ Criss-Cross,, accessed November 6, 2017
  9. ^ Various – The Giants Of Jazz,, accessed January 22, 2018