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 just how much I have always loved Monk’s work, hence, another Friday Night Jazz featuring Monk.

Our man 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:

Monks_dreamThelonious Monk with John Coltrane — what more can you add to these two geniuses riffing off of each other? Simply a monst    rous most own.

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

Monk’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 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). 




Videos after the jump . . . 



Blue Monk

Thelonious Monk at Town Hall – Part 1 (Documentary)

Thelonious Monk at Town Hall – Part 2 (Documentary)

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. David Graves commented on May 2

    The excellent documentary “Straight No Chaser” is available on Netflix, and is not to be missed. Anyone who loves Monk’s music owes him or herself the rental. I saw it in theatrical release when it was released in 1989, and it is well worth the time invested.

  2. Rob Dawg commented on May 2

    “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” Monkism.

    “Straight, No Chaser” with Cannonball Adderley or with Miles Davis.

  3. Helaine commented on May 2

    There is an absolutely amazing essay about Monk and his relationship with his patron, Nica de Koenigswarter, in Best Music Writing 2007. Check it out. It’s compelling.

    Otherwise, great post about those BS unemployment numbers today.

  4. john commented on May 2

    are you familiar w/ a pianist named Don Pullen ?

  5. Barley commented on May 2

    Thx for this….have not heard Monk for years.

    This makes my weekend!

  6. howard commented on May 2

    monk: the thing i admire most (and its hard to choose) is a comment i once saw ascribed to him: “why do we throw away the melody during the improv?”

    monk is a true jazz genius because he wrote tunes with an intricate intertwining of melody, harmony, and rhythm that can be improvised upon in all 3 directions. when you hear monk’s group playing monk’s music, it always retains the melodic as well as harmonic and rhythmic shapes; many great jazz musicians will, once they slip into the improv choruses, leave the melody behind, smooth off the spiky rhythms, and only improvise harmonically.

    let me second david graves: straight no chaser is one of the greatest jazz movies of all, a must for anyone with an interest. monk also occupies an amusing side presence in the documentary “great day in harlem.”

    not all of monk’s work is equally sublime, but there are no monk recordings not worth your time, and his body of compositions (roughly 50 or so) will endure as long as something resembling jazz does.

  7. howard commented on May 2

    PS. i meant to note a favorite anecdote about monk’s absolute mastery of time and note placement. i once heard albert murray say “louis armstrong could make any note swing. count basie could make one note swing. monk could make no note swing.”

  8. Banker commented on May 3

    This is one of the reasons I enjoy your blog. Great, eye opening, post.


  9. cinefoz commented on May 3

    aka Berkshire Record Outlet, inc

    Go here and search on Thelonius. You’ll find some rare recordings at give-away prices. Jazz and classical are their specialties, mostly classical. It’s a closeout company, so the selection changes over time. They only offer the best recordings, not the bargain bin junk. It is a national resource. You’ll find a lot of rare stuff.

  10. Bruce commented on May 3

    “Brilliant Corners” awesome Monk record. I think the opening track was too complicated for the band to get right– they ended up putting a bunch of different cuts together.

  11. sailorman commented on May 3

    I was lucky enough to catch him live a few times in Greenwich Village in the early 60s.

    It was some of the greatest live performances I have ever been to. He used to play in a small jazz club. I think it was the Village Vanguard, but it was 45 years ago and I don’t remember.

  12. Albatross commented on May 3

    Thx Barry, how trivial financial bogus numbers look after listening to genius of Monk with Coltrane.

  13. cat commented on May 3

    A true original. The Straight no Chaser flick is wonderful. Particularly liked Charlie Rouses comment about one or two takes only for each recording – If you dont get it right you have to listen to your mistakes for the rest of your life!

  14. Jim commented on May 3

    Many yrs ago I read a Time Mag feature about the man in which it was mentioned that TM’s wife sought to keep his feet planted firmly by playfully referring to him as “Melodius Thunk”.

  15. howard commented on May 3

    sailorman, i believe you’re thinking of the five spot; monk had lost his cabaret card for a while due to being in a car with bud powell and some heroin (i can’t recall the details), and when he finally got it back, he made a number of appearances at the five spot that were all the rage in new york at the time….

  16. Alaskan Pete commented on May 3

    “Alone in San Francisco” album, probably my favorite Monk.

  17. marcello commented on May 3

    run, don’t walk, to buy anything by Thelonius Monk. Recent CD remasterings are terrific with great sound quality. Run away from any downloaded MP3 pap . . .

    BTW, my recommendation “It’s Monk’s Time” with first track “Lulu back in Town”, played on an out-of-tune piano. Hard to find, but fantastic stuff.

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