Pianist and composer Thelonious Monk at
Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem, c. 1947.
Courtesy of William P. Gottlieb.
Born October 10, 1917, in Rocky Mount, NC
Died February 17, 1982, in Weehawken, NJ
“A genius is one who is most like himself,” said Thelonious Monk. By this standard, Monk’s brilliance was unmatched. Fingers splayed, elbows poised to collide with the keyboard, he neither played nor sounded like anyone else and the public recognized his eccentricities – his ever-changing headgear, dizzying mid-performance dances and long, baffling silences – long before it accepted his music.
Raised in Manhattan and inspired by the New York masters of stride piano, Monk became the house pianist at Minton’s Playhouse where the young creators of bebop played together after-hours in 1940. From the first, the greatest musicians loved compositions like “’Round Midnight” and “Epistrophy” with their unusual chords and voicings and sudden starts and stops, but it was not until 1957 and the release of his record, “Brilliant Corners,” that the jazz world fully came to see that he was, as John Coltrane said, “a musical architect of the highest order,” and one of the most important composers in the history of the music.
Learn More: www.theloniousmonk.com
Listen to more music at Jazz at Lincoln Center Radio: www.jazzatlincolncenter.org/jazzcast/program.asp?programNumber=75