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Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Sphere Monk

Composer, Pianist, Bandleader

(1917 - 1982)

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Thelonious Monk was an idiosyncratic jazz pianist who left a relatively small but very significant body of work. He grew up in New York City and as a young child could play anything he heard. He was influenced by the early stride pianists, and by 17 he was on the road with a gospel singer/evangelist.

In 1944 Coleman Hawkins hired him for his band which included Dizzy Gillespie, who was at the forefront of the bebop movement. Monk helped develop bebop as a more intellectual approach to music. If the guys wanted to throw somebody off, they called Monk’s “Epistrophy” which hardly anyone could play because of its difficult harmonic structure.

Monk’s music was incomprehensible to most at the outset, and even today many musicians are wary of tackling his eccentric pieces, full of dissonance and rhythmic displacement. Some of his works, in the style of the beboppers, are reharmonizations of standard tunes: “Blue Skies” is the basis for “In Walked Bud” and “Ja-Da,” for “Sixteen.”

Monk’s career took off in the late ‘50s with three important recordings: Brilliant Corners, Thelonious Himself, and Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane. In 1959 he performed at Town Hall with an orchestra, made the cover of Time magazine in 1964, and toured Europe with his band, featuring saxophonist Charlie Rouse, his musical soul mate. His last performance was at the 1976 Newport Jazz Festival, after which he withdrew from the public eye until his death.

Monk is best appreciated as a soloist and his reinterpretations of standards are especially enlightening. Many of his compositions have become part of the jazz canon: “Blue Monk,” “Bemsha Swing,” “Well You Needn’t,” “Ruby My Dear,” “I Mean You,” and most notably “’Round Midnight.” Carmen McRae recorded his work in 1990 with several lyricists contributing words.

- Sandra Burlingame


Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane

Thelonious Monk/John Coltrane



Brilliant Corners

Thelonious Monk



Thelonious Alone in San Francisco

Thelonious Monk



Thelonious Himself

Thelonious Monk



Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane

Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane



Carmen Sings Monk: First Edt (Dig)

Carmen Mcrae



Monk's Dream

Thelonious Monk Quartet



Straight No Chaser

Thelonious Monk



Thelonious Monk & Sonny Rollins

Thelonious Monk With Sonny Rollins
Reading and Viewing

At Amazon.com you can often buy used for a fraction of the new price


Leslie Gourse

Straight, No Chaser: The Life and Genius of Thelonious Monk

Schirmer Books


Laurent De Wilde

Monk

Marlowe & Company


Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk Fake Book

Hal Leonard Corporation


Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk for Guitar

Hal Leonard Corporation


Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk Plays Standards - Volume 1: Piano Transcriptions (Artist Transcriptions)

Hal Leonard Corporation


Various

DownBeat - The Great Jazz Interviews (A 75th Anniversary Anthology) (Book)

Hal Leonard


Various

Down Beat: Sixty Years of Jazz

Hal Leonard Corporation


Wynton Marsalis, Geoffrey Ward

Moving to Higher Ground: How Jazz Can Change Your Life

Random House Trade Paperbacks


Documentary

Thelonious Monk - American Composer (1993)

DVD


Various Artists

Thelonious Monk - Straight No Chaser

Warner Home Video

DVD


Dexter Gordon, Francois Cluzet

Round Midnight

Warner Home Video

DVD

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