The Prisoner is Herbie Hancock's final jazz album. The title tracks and liner notes comment on the struggles of black America emerging from early '60s, an extended metaphor of The Prisoner, rising from MLK's “I have Dream” to the “Promise of the Sun“.
1964 was momentous for saxophonist Wayne Shorter, starting the year in Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers before making his own debut (Night Dreamer/JuJu). He joined the Miles Davis Quintet that summer, cementing a seminal lineup in jazz history.
This LP represents a stage in Monk's development in which his works were known to a limited audience. His alternative approach to the keyboard wasn't yet established and his reputation as the "grey-eminence genius of the bop era" was yet to emerge.