Monday, October 10, 2011

Well, You Needn't

Thelonious Monk, 1961 (Photo by William Claxton)

It's time to pay homage to another Master of Jazz. On this day in 1917, Thelonious Monk was born. In the history of jazz, there are many peculiar individuals and a few brilliant individuals. Well, Monk was both peculiar and brilliant. In terms of composition, only Duke Ellington has had a greater influence upon the genre.

I've expressed my youthful difficulties in appreciating bebop and its derivatives. I just couldn't get into Charlie Parker or Dizzy Gillespie. Their music didn't click with my conception as to how music was "supposed" to sound. So, what knocked down these mental barriers? The music of Thelonious Monk. It was both intellectually engaging and emotionally accessible.

My newfound enthusiasm for Monk was further developed by the 1988 documentary "Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser", shortly after I "discovered" his music. By learning about the man behind the music, it added a new depth to my appreciation. This is where my interest in music and art history began.

Thelonious Monk was born on October 10, 1917.

Well, that's enough about me. Let's get back to celebrating the great music of Thelonious Monk!

Here are some of the iconic Monk compositions.


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