There's bebop, there's hard bop--and then there's Thelonious Monk. It's not hard to imagine where the bebop pioneers found their new sound in the late 1940s, after World War II. It emerged from the big bands, which were dying. It was a natural progression. Hard-charging, uber-fast soloists pushed the limits of speed and rhythm, to the chagrin of the jazz establishment, but to the thrill of listeners. It was new, but it wasn't a giant leap--more of an incremental step. Thelonious Monk was there. But it's clear from Genius of Modern Music, Volume 1, that Monk ...read more
Believe it or not there have been times when jazz and poetry intertwine. The music inspires the poetry and creates a non-mainstream style of writing... jazz poetry. Innovations in music and poetics in the early part of the 20th century surfaced in the 1920's. The simultaneous evolution of poetry and jazz music was not lost upon musicians and writers of the time. The two art forms merge and form the genre of jazz poetry. However, note that there's a distinction between poets who write about jazz music (jazz-related poetry) and poets who capture the tone, rhythm and cadence ...read more
Only with hindsight can it be ascertained that 1959 marked the pinnacle of jazz music as a cultural force in the United States. In 1959, the Mount Rushmore presidents of jazz were recording their definitive statements: John Coltrane's Giant Steps (Atlantic, 1960), Dave Brubeck's Time Out (Columbia, 1959), Charles Mingus' Ah Um (Columbia, 1959), Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1959) and Ornette Coleman's The Shape Of Jazz To Come (Atlantic, 1959).That year also signaled the upcoming split of allegiances for the post-World War II generations between jazz and the baby boomers' rock 'n' roll. At the center ...read more
One fundamental paradox of compilation albums is the way so many good ones ultimately render themselves useless. Consider how many hits packages sit untouched on the shelves of aficionados, doomed to a lifetime of neglect simply for having the gall to work efficiently as the conversion tools they were intended to be. Consequently, a great compilation requires a functionality beyond simply being a commercially-endorsed mix CD. The Definitive Thelonious Monk on Prestige and Riverside spans the great pianist/composer's most revered era (1952-1960), and appears outwardly as nothing special: It unearths nothing unfamiliar, runs in obvious chronological order, and culls almost ...read more
Many albums in the Original Jazz Classics reissue series include alternate takes or tracks recorded for, but ultimately not included on, the original vinyl LP. The label's 2011 Remasters edition of pianist Thelonious Monk's Monk's Music (Riverside, 1957) is no exception--but is something of a first, in that Blues For Tomorrow," the 13:33 minute bonus track, does not include a single note from the leader. The track was recorded on June 25, 1957, in the closing minutes of an otherwise unproductive session. Monk, unusually, arrived on time, but was distracted with worry about his wife, Nellie, who was ...read more
Monk Vocal CompetitionKennedy CenterWashington, D.C.October, 2010 One of the premier jazz events of the year, the annual Thelonious Monk competition rarely fails to deliver. Each year the jazz elite gather to celebrate the legacy of Thelonious Monk and to recognize up-and-coming talents of the jazz world via a competition that rotates among instruments. When hosted by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., an aura of political weight is inevitably added to the evening as Congressmen--and this year, President Barak Obama together with Michelle Obama--affix their names to the list of honoree ...read more
Superstitions tend to hold sway over many, otherwise, rational people. Plenty of us avoid walking under ladders, knock on wood and partake in countless other rituals that, while lacking in sound reasoning, certainly make us feel better and bring us comfort in our daily lives. Brides-to-be even fall into this category and believe that it will bring them luck to wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue on their wedding day.While each of these items represents different things to the bride, they also have strong connection to jazz. The Old represents the past--traditions ...read more
Join our growing community ofwriters, musicians, visual artists and advocates.