Yesterday marked the 31st anniversary of the death of one of the greats of jazz, On that date Thelonious Monk died of a stroke, at the age of 64. I really didn’t get into Monk’s music until the last few years. I do have one album Monk Plays Duke on vinyl, but I have Brilliant Corners and Alone in San Francisco on the iPod! I had the album Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall on an mp3 player as a download from Rhapsody, now that’s one great album. (Note to self get that album on the iPod!).
Anyway here’s some background on Monk from Wikipedia:
Thelonious Sphere Monk (October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982) was an American jazz pianist and composer considered 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.
His compositions and improvisations are full of dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists, and are consistent with Monk’s unorthodox approach to the piano, which combined a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of silences and hesitations. Since this was not a style universally appreciated, poet and jazz critic Philip Larkin dismissed Monk as “the elephant on the keyboard”.[6
….As his health declined, Monk’s last six years were spent as a guest in the Weehawken, New Jersey home of his long-standing patron and friend, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, who had also nursed Charlie Parker during his final illness. Monk did not play the piano during this time, even though one was present in his room, and he spoke to few visitors. He died of a stroke on February 17, 1982, and was buried in Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. Read More
So let’s go “Into the Morning” with the Thelonious Monk Quartet and “Epistrophy” The Quartet consists of Monk, Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Butch Warren (bass), and Frankie Dunlop (drums).