It was recorded on 29 November 1957 at "Thanksgiving Jazz", a benefit concert produced by Kenneth Lee Karpe for the Morningside Community Center in Harlem. Other acts performing included: Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Sonny Rollins, and Chet Baker with Zoot Sims. The recording, by Voice of America, documents two sets by the Monk Quartet with Coltrane that night – an early set (tracks 1-5) and a late set (tracks 6-9), which the recording does not fully document.
The recording has been highly praised: Newsweek called it the "musical equivalent of the discovery of a new Mount Everest," and Amazon.com editorial reviewer Lloyd Sachs called it "the ultimate definition of a classic". Soon after its release, it became the #1 best selling music recording on Amazon.com.
The discovery substantially increased coverage of Monk and Coltrane's partnership; the only other recordings known are The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings CD set (assembled from previously issued albums) and Discovery, believed to document a reunion at the Five Spot café in 1958, recorded on amateur equipment by Coltrane's first wife.