Friday Night Jazz: Thelonious Monk

Thelonious_monk_with_john_coltraneOne of my all time favorites Jazz musicians is Thelonius Monk. I stumbled across this video via a random click, and it reminded  me how much I love Monk’s work.

Monk was a three way genius: As a composer, as a jazz pianist, and as an improvisationist, he was without peer, and shaped the future of Jazz. Some notable discs:

Monk’s Dream is a great example of Thelonious Monk in a Quartet format, with Monk at the peak of his career peak.

Monks_dreamMonk’s Music a classsic compositions & recordings; Bold and inspired, with Coltrane, Blakey and Hawkins. Just fabulous.

Solo Monk a man, a piano, a studio tape recorder. Brilliant. 

Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane — what more can you add to these two? Monstrous.


Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall accidentally discovered in an unmarked box by a Library of Congress engineer early 2005 (previously mentioned in our year end review).

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  1. Alan Coffey commented on Mar 9

    A (young)friend of mine was recently discussing his favourite forgotten bands of the 90’s
    ( got a bunch of us thinking of the 80’s, 70’s and on back. A guy we remembered fondly was John Coltrane. My roomate in college had the album pictured above and he introduced a lot of us to these men and their work. It is Friday night and high time to find those CD’s again…

  2. MKS commented on Mar 9

    Great piece. enjoyed it very much, Barry.


  3. howard commented on Mar 9

    now you’re talking, barry!

    any fan of monk, btw, must see the exceptional documentary “straight no chaser,” and there’s also some nice monk moments in the “great day in harlem” documentary.

    i go back and forth between monk and rollins as to my favorite jazz musician in history (although i think that ornette is more important than either), but barry does a nice job of elucidating monk’s triple threat status.

    monk was known for saying (rough paraphrase): “why do we throw the melody away when we improvise?” interestingly enough, although monk’s compositions are frequently covered by others, no one but monk is able to play them in the monk manner – that is, to improvise simultaneously on the rhythm, harmony, AND melody all the way through.

    of course, lots of lamebrains accused him of lacking technique back in the day; luckily, quality will out, in music as in stocks.

  4. drtomaso commented on Mar 9

    I had to play the video several times. Each time I pick up on a little more of the dialog going on between Monk and ‘Trane.

  5. bostonian commented on Mar 9

    I am a fan of the blog. I read it every day. I have to say, I am getting tired of the feeds full of HTML. Are your sure the mime type is correct on the feed? It should be text/xml. Thanks. I use netnewswire on OS X.

  6. MKS commented on Mar 10


    Charlie Rouse is on the sax, not coltrane. At least that is what the dvd cover says.
    And the video is not the 1957 Carnegie Hall, but in 1966 (dont know where it is).

    if anyone knows if this recording is available in amazon audio, please let me know.


  7. David Graves commented on Mar 10

    “Straight, no chaser” is an amazing piece of documentary film. For me, there is no one whose chromatic invention matches the rhythmic looseness of Monk. Sit down with one of the recordings listed above with a friend on a Sunday night. Play it and listen. If it’s your first time (i.e. never heard Monk before), be prepared for a life-changing experience. Those are rare. Thanks, Mr. B. for reminding us how special one of the greats of mid-twentieth century American music was.

  8. tristaina commented on Mar 10

    That is heavy! Thelonius Monk, the melodious thunk!

    When you think that there are people like that who do something serious with their lives, and then there are jokers like us who don’t really do anything at all but think about money …

  9. Guy Lerner commented on Mar 10


    I didn’t know you that are such renaissance man! Good going!!!

  10. Leisa commented on Mar 10

    Barry, I have a Coltrain CD that I bought. I’m going to send it to you, for I really do not get any enjoyment out of it.


    BR: Which one?

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