“Jazz is freedom. You think about that.”
– Thelonius Monk
Thelonious Sphere Monk (October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982) was an American jazz pianist and composer considered as one of the giants of American music. Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including “Epistrophy”, “‘Round Midnight”, “Blue Monk”, “Straight, No Chaser” and “Well, You Needn’t”. Monk is the second-most recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed over 1,000 songs while Monk wrote about 70.
Below are some sound clips, videos and a movie about Thelonius Monk, enjoy!
Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie Quintet – Relaxin’ With Lee (Recorded In NY, 1950)
Bird (as), Dizzy (tr), Monk (p), Curly Russel (b), Buddy Rich (dr)
Thelonius Monk “Blue Monk” (1958)
After the show Monk was pissed about Basie looking at him.
Thelonious Monk “Just a Gigolo 〜 Bolivar Blues” (1963) LIVE
Thelonious Monk Quartet In Denmark (April, 17th, 1966)
On April 17, 1966, Thelonious Monk performed a special half-hour set for a television program in Copenhagen, Denmark. The footage captures Monk in his prime. His quartet features the classic lineup of Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone, Larry Gales on Bass and Ben Riley on Drums. They play three songs, beginning with an 18-minute version of “Lulu’s Back in Town,” from the 1964 album It’s Monk’s Time. Each musician has room to solo as Monk gets up from his piano and does his stiff, idiosyncratic dance. Next, Monk plays a solo version of the standard, “Don’t Blame Me,” by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields. The full quartet returns for Monk’s signature show-closer, “Epistrophy.”
Here is a nice movie about Thelonius Monk, Straight No Chaser by Clint Eastwood