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Thelonious Monk

With the arrival Thelonious Sphere Monk, modern music— let alone modern culture—simply hasn’t been the same. Recognized as one of the most inventive pianists of any musical genre, Monk achieved a startlingly original sound that even his most devoted followers have been unable to successfully imitate.

His musical vision was both ahead of its time and deeply rooted in tradition, spanning the entire history of the music from the “stride” masters of James P. Johnson and Willie “the Lion” Smith to the tonal freedom and kinetics of the “avant garde.” And he shares with Edward “Duke” Ellington the distinction of being one of the century’s greatest American composers. At the same time, his commitment to originality in all aspects of life—in fashion, in his creative use of language and economy of words, in his biting humor, even in the way he danced away from the piano—has led fans and detractors alike to call him “eccentric,” “mad” or even “taciturn.” Consequently, Monk has become perhaps the most talked about and least understood artist in the history of jazz.

Born on October 10, 1917, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Thelonious was only four when his mother and his two siblings, Marion and Thomas, moved to New York City. Unlike other Southern migrants who headed straight to Harlem, the Monks settled on West 63rd Street in the “San Juan Hill” neighborhood of Manhattan, near the Hudson River. His father, Thelonious, Sr., joined the family three years later, but health considerations forced him to return to North Carolina. During his stay, however, he often played the harmonica, ‘Jew’s harp,” and piano—all of which probably influenced his son’s unyielding musical interests. Young Monk turned out to be a musical prodigy in addition to a good student and a fine athlete. He studied the trumpet briefly but began exploring the piano at age nine. He was about nine when Marion’s piano teacher took Thelonious on as a student. By his early teens, he was playing rent parties, sitting in on organ and piano at a local Baptist church, and was reputed to have won several “amateur hour” competitions at the Apollo Theater.

Admitted to Peter Stuyvesant, one of the city’s best high schools, Monk dropped out at the end of his sophomore year to pursue music and around 1935 took a job as a pianist for a traveling evangelist and faith healer. Returning after two years, he formed his own quartet and played local bars and small clubs until the spring of 1941, when drummer Kenny Clarke hired him as the house pianist at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem.

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12
Album Review

Thelonious Monk: With John Coltrane 1957 Revisited

Read "With John Coltrane 1957 Revisited" reviewed by Chris May


Once again, the ezz-thetics label has taken some of the finest artefacts of mid-twentieth-century US jazz and sonically restored them, bringing an unprecedented level of clarity, precision and presence. It is no exaggeration to say that the Swiss-based label's work can be compared with the restoration of Michelangelo's frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel during the 1980s, both in terms of the quality of the original material and the artistry with which the renovation has been executed. The ...

21
Album Review

Thelonious Monk: Brilliant Corners

Read "Brilliant Corners" reviewed by Richard J Salvucci


Writing about being “lost for words" is not the ideal way of starting a review, but it may be the plain truth. Perhaps Thelonious Monk is an acquired taste. Perhaps not. Whatever the case, this particular release of Brilliant Corners is just that--brilliant.The whole package is superb and really defines Craft Recordings “Small Batch" vinyl series. The technical literature accompanying the recording says “Each edition is cut from its original analog tapes by Bernie Grundman and pressed on ...

1
Radio & Podcasts

Monk Impressions: Frank Kimbrough to Miho Hazama + some Brötzmann

Read "Monk Impressions: Frank Kimbrough to Miho Hazama + some Brötzmann" reviewed by David Brown


It's time for the Jazz Continuum here on G-Town Radio. This week, some father and son work from the O'Farrill family, a remembrance of German Free Improv saxophonist Peter Brötzmann who recently passed, and a whole lotta Monk as interpreted by a variety of artists from Frank Kimbrough to Miho Hazama. And of course, new releases, recent acquisitions and gems from the archives. Playlist Thelonious Monk “Esistrophy (Theme)" from Live at the It Club-Complete (Columbia) 00:30 Vince Ector ...

2
Radio & Podcasts

April Songs -Soulful Singles - Lesser known '50s players!

Read "April Songs -Soulful Singles - Lesser known '50s players!" reviewed by David Brown


This week on the Jazz Continuum, a set of April themed tunes from Sarah Vaughn to Anthony Braxton, soulful singles from Sugar Pie DeSanto to Irma Thomas, plus a swinging' set of lesser-known jazz men from the '50s and more. Playlist Thelonious Monk “Esistrophy (Theme)" from Live at the It Club-Complete (Columbia) 01:00 Charlie Parker With Strings “April In Paris" from Charlie Parker With Stings (Bluebird/Legacy) 01:30 Thad Jones “I Remember Paris" from Thad Jones (Debut) 05:23 Eric ...

5
Radio & Podcasts

Concert Promoter Danny Scher

Read "Concert Promoter Danny Scher" reviewed by Lawrence Peryer


In this episode...Spotlight On host Lawrence Peryer chats with long time concert promoter, Danny Scher. Danny had an illustrious career working with legendary concert promoter, Bill Graham but as a younger man, at the start of his career, booked Duke Ellington and Vince Guaraldi. As a high school student in Palo Alto, CA, Danny Scher came up with the idea to book Thelonious Monk to play his school's auditorium. A recording of that special concert finally saw the light of ...

19
Album Review

Thelonious Monk Quartet: Live Five Spot 1958 Revisited

Read "Live Five Spot 1958 Revisited" reviewed by Chris May


What are the first two names that come to mind on reading the phrase 'Thelonious Monk's saxophonist'? Chances are they will be John Coltrane or Charlie Rouse. The runner-up could be Sonny Rollins and somewhere further down the field might be Johnny Griffin. Griffin deserves to move up the list. The hard blowing, express velocity, R&B-schooled tenor player starting gigging with Monk in 1948. In 1955, he was the Monk quartet's saxophonist during a one-week residency in ...

2
Jazz Poetry

Solo Monk: A Poem By Steve Kowit

Read "Solo Monk: A Poem By Steve Kowit" reviewed by AAJ Staff


One day back in the '60s, Monk was sitting at the piano, Charlie Mingus pulling at his coat how Monk should put the word in so the Mingus group could play the Five Spot, seeing as how Monk's already legendary gig down there was ending--Mingus all persuasion & cajolery, ran it down for twenty minutes till he capped it with the comment: ..."Dig it, Thelonious, you know we Black Brothers ...GOT to ...

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TV / Film

Doc: The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith

Doc: The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

From 1957 to 1965, photographer W Eugene Smith lived in loft space at 821 Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. Smith had already established himself as a pioneer of the journalistic photo essay—a collection of images that told a story in magazines, most notably Life. Before the rise of the documentary in the early 1960s with the advent of the portable shoulder camera, Smith's photo montages served the same purpose in still images. In 1957, Smith left his wife and four children ...

Video / DVD

Thelonious Monk in Paris, 1969

Thelonious Monk in Paris, 1969

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

On December 15, 1969, pianist Thelonious Monk was in Paris on tour with Charlie Rouse (ts) Nate Hygelund (b) and Austin “Paris" Wright (d), with Philly Joe Jones (d) playing on Nutty and Blue Monk. Hygelund was still a student at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. And Wright was only 17. Monk had asked his father, bassist Herman Wright, if he could take his son along on the road. Nine months ago, the complete broadcast of the quartet ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Thelonious Monk

Jazz Musician of the Day: Thelonious Monk

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Thelonious Monk's birthday today!

With the arrival Thelonious Sphere Monk, modern music— let alone modern culture—simply hasn’t been the same. Recognized as one of the most inventive pianists of any musical genre, Monk achieved a startlingly original sound that even his most devoted followers have been unable to successfully imitate. His musical vision was both ahead of its time and deeply rooted in tradition, spanning the entire history of the music from the “stride” masters ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Thelonious Monk

Jazz Musician of the Day: Thelonious Monk

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Thelonious Monk's birthday today!

With the arrival Thelonious Sphere Monk, modern music— let alone modern culture—simply hasn’t been the same. Recognized as one of the most inventive pianists of any musical genre, Monk achieved a startlingly original sound that even his most devoted followers have been unable to successfully imitate. His musical vision was both ahead of its time and deeply rooted in tradition, spanning the entire history of the music from the “stride” masters ...

Music Industry

Thelonious Monk: Brussels, 1963

Thelonious Monk: Brussels, 1963

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

I'm loving these newly colorized jazz videos on YouTube. The trend began earlier this year, and the number of videos being given the hue treatment keeps multiplying. I'm not sure how or why so many are getting this makeover, but they certainly are move exciting and lively than the black and white originals. Case in point: In March 1963, the Thelonious Monk Quartet performed in Brussels as part of a European tour. Here's an hour of the group in color... ...

Video / DVD

Thelonious Monk Quartet: Jazz 625

Thelonious Monk Quartet: Jazz 625

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

My favorite Thelonious Monk quartet featured Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone, Monk on piano, Larry Gales on bass and Ben Riley on drums. The group was recorded extensively on tour and in the studio from 1964 to 1968. On March 14,1965, they were at the Marquee Club in London before a live audience for the BBC2's Jazz 625. The TV show's title refers to the BBC2's broadcast on 625-lines UHF rather than the 405-lines VHF system used by the other ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Thelonious Monk

Jazz Musician of the Day: Thelonious Monk

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Thelonious Monk's birthday today!

With the arrival Thelonious Sphere Monk, modern music— let alone modern culture—simply hasn’t been the same. Recognized as one of the most inventive pianists of any musical genre, Monk achieved a startlingly original sound that even his most devoted followers have been unable to successfully imitate. His musical vision was both ahead of its time and deeply rooted in tradition, spanning the entire history of the music from the “stride” masters ...

Recording

Thelonious Monk: Palo Alto

Thelonious Monk: Palo Alto

Source: JazzWax by Marc Myers

There are no bad recordings of pianist Thelonious Monk together with tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse. Well, maybe two—when they were in a top-notch group assembled in the late 1940s to back a so-so vocalist named Frankie Passions, who recorded two lackluster pop songs. But starting in the fall of 1958, at New York's Five Spot, they began a working and recording relationship that lasted until 1969. Fortunately for us, most of their sessions were live. A new entry in the ...

5

Recording

Leon Lee Dorsey Explores The Music Of Thelonious Monk On "MonkTime," Bassist's First Album In 20 Years, Available Now!

Leon Lee Dorsey Explores The Music Of Thelonious Monk On "MonkTime," Bassist's First Album In 20 Years, Available Now!

Source: Terri Hinte Publicity

Twenty years after the release of his last album, bassist Leon Lee Dorsey reassumes the mantle of a recording artist in his own right with the September 13 release of MonkTime (Jazz Avenue 1 Records). The debut of Dorsey’s DSC Band, which also includes guitarist Greg Skaff and celebrated drummer Mike Clark, features the trio applying their potent chemistry to eight compositions by jazz titan Thelonious Monk. While Dorsey is himself a talented, accomplished composer and arranger, he brings a ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Thelonious Monk

Jazz Musician of the Day: Thelonious Monk

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Thelonious Monk's birthday today!

With the arrival Thelonious Sphere Monk, modern music— let alone modern culture—simply hasn’t been the same. Recognized as one of the most inventive pianists of any musical genre, Monk achieved a startlingly original sound that even his most devoted followers have been unable to successfully imitate. His musical vision was both ahead of its time and deeply rooted in tradition... Read more.

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