The studio and live recording sessions that Thelonious Monk cut during his six-year stay at the Riverside label are compiled over the 15 discs in the Complete Riverside Recordings. This middle era -- between his early sides for Prestige and the final ones for Columbia -- is generally considered Monk's most ingenious and creative period. The sessions are presented in chronological order, accurately charting the progression and diversions of one of the most genuinely enigmatic figures in popular music. The Complete Riverside Recordings explores Monk's genius with a certain degree of real-time analysis that simply listening to each of the individual albums from this era lacks. This is due in part to the 14 additional performances exclusive to this collection. However, a more satisfying level of assessing Monk's indelible marks of extemporaneous perfection can be heard within his prankster-like sense of timing or innate penchant for sophisticated arrangements. Among the sessions captured on this exhaustive set are the Duke Ellington sides and the Sonny Rollins era (which yielded the genre-defining Brilliant Corners), as well as meetings with Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, and Gerry Mulligan. Additionally, the entire Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall performance is presented just as it went down -- with solo and quartet sets intact. Accompanying the discs is a 28-page full-size (12"x12") booklet that is indispensable in dispelling myths and making sense of the convoluted and seemingly random order in which many of these recordings have been previously issued. It also contains a complete sessionography annotated by Monk's producer during this era, Orrin Keepnews. This is a convenient, albeit pricey way to obtain all of this remarkable music.