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T.S. Monk Speaks Out

By Published: November 6, 2003
TM: No, no, it's funny because I was looking at some pictures the other day of my father at a fund raiser with Ed Sullivan in a tuxedo, things like that. A lot of things that all artists do in the early parts of their careers that no one pays attention to'for anybody'you know?(laughing) We tend to lock into people when they come up on our radar and assume that's who they are. So for most people Thelonious is this austere, somewhat aloof figure. That unapproachable, irascible, and all that kind of stuff. Hey, man, he was a young guy out there trying to get over for a lot of years, man, and that involves doing a whole lot of things that every jazz musician today whose in the position to have a gig knows they had to do too' Jackie McLean was telling me about when he was sixteen years old. He had met Thelonious the year before when he was fifteen years old and he had a wedding to do, and he didn't have a pianist so he called his best friend at the time, a young drummer who was playing with Thelonious'Arthur Taylor'so he called AT and says, 'Man, I really need a pianist for this gig. I'm really stuck, stuckstuckstuck' and AT says, 'Well, call Monk!' And Jackie looks at him and says, 'What are you crazy? Whaddya mean call Monk? Call Thelonious Monk? This is a wedding.' And AT said, 'You know what, man? Thelonious is a musician who loves to play the music, and if he digs you it doesn't matter what kind of gig it is. It's music, right? Call him.' And Jackie McLean called him and they did that wedding.

AAJ: The They-Come-Out-of-Nowhere phenomenon. That's what I call it. Every artist has to come out of nowhere. That's the way Americans like it. You bust your ass for years, and you're doing this and that, and finally you get some recognition and suddenly it's 'First Time Writer' or whatever. No, no, you've been doing this all your life.


TM: It's amazing.

AAJ: You're obviously very involved with your father's music. Some people would have gone a very different way, tried to distance themselves from it and I'm wondering'

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