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Thelonious Monk

Discussion in 'Blues & Jazz' started by newdawnfades, Jan 12, 2006.

  1. newdawnfades

    newdawnfades Senior Member

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    I was watching the documentary Straight, No Chaser last night. It was produced by Clint Eastwood and it has a bunch of old footage of Monk playing, and even him in the studio producing music with his band.

    I don't really know much about Monk, other than that he played with Miles Davis. It was really interesting hearing him play. My first impression was that this guy doesn't play 'right'. He's off note quite often, and he's obviously not trying to please the crowd. But as you listen you can tell that he's doing something really big by playing that way.

    Monk was a very eccentric fellow, they suspected he had bipolar disorder. He'd pace backstage before his performances, spinning around in circles for no apparent reason.

    He wasn't really capable of taking care of himself. His wife had to do everything, from dressing him in the morning, to paying the bills, and even making sure he was fed.

    His style is very interesting. Sometimes aesthetic, but mostly improvisational. There's some footage of him rehearsing with his band. It was really loose. Not much direction. It was just like "i'll play this part, then you come in here." On the fly.

    There was this one scene where Monk's band was playing in England. He didn't give the band the music until a few hours before the performance. So they all had to learn this stuff without rehearsing, on the plane to England. Talk about pressure!

    That performance ending up being one of their great performances. I guess he just decided to quit playing the piano toward the end of his life. The guys from his band talked about going to visit him and trying to get him back into the studio, or just jamming like they did in the old days. But he just quit playing.

    When you think of creative geniuses and their struggle with sanity and the relationship that mental illness has with artistry then you have to look at Thelonious Monk.

    Very interesting documentary. I'd recommend it if you are curious about Jazz.

    Anybody else admire Thelonious Monk?

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    Last edited: Jan 12, 2006
  2. Music Wench

    Music Wench Rock and Roll Grandma

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    It took me a while to get into Thelonius Monk. He did initially come off as a bit off-putting but after a while I started to really appreciate what he was doing.

    I knew he was a bit eccentric and heard they suspected he was bi-polar. Didn't know his wife had to do everything for him like that. Most interesting individual. Certainly a creative genius.
     
  3. halcyon days

    halcyon days Guest

    i think it was satchmo or nwa who told me miles actually did not like the way monk played behind him and asked him not when he solo and that i think they only played togther that one record session or so
     
  4. newdawnfades

    newdawnfades Senior Member

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    Speaking of that, there was this interesting story Monk was telling in the documentary. He was playing at a club and Count Basie was in the audience watching him. You'd think it'd make sense since Monk was performing and Basie was watching the performance. But Monk was so bothered as he thought Basie staring at him, saying "what is he looking at?!" It was kind of humorous listening to him go on about that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2006
  5. Zombeels

    Zombeels Senior Member

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    Big fan of Thelonius Monk. When I owned a used record store in the late 80's I was lucky enough for someone to introduce me to the great music of Thelonius.
     
  6. eccentric man

    eccentric man Senior Member

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    i'm not a huge fan yet but i like what i've heard so far and i really dig on his approach to music. i remember talking to my dad about him once and refered to him as a music box rolling down a flight of stairs, he laughed and said it was probably the best description he's heard of monk's style ever. every now and then i get lucky and manage to channel a bit of monk's approach to his instrument when i'm playing guitar but i don't know if the people i play with really catch on or just think i don't know how to play properly haha.
     
  7. newdawnfades

    newdawnfades Senior Member

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    It amazes me that Monk got away with it though. I am sure he had his fair share of bandmates that probably just refused to play with him. It's a shame though because there was obviously some greatness and creativity to his style but the first impressions with many people cause them to judge too quickly.

    BTW, THAT is a pretty good description!
     
  8. halcyon days

    halcyon days Guest


    now that is cool playing guitar like monk played the piano :D
     
  9. Gearjammer

    Gearjammer Devout Heathen

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    Where did you see this NDF?
     
  10. newdawnfades

    newdawnfades Senior Member

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    The movie is widely available. You can get it on Amazon. I rented it via my Netflix subscription.
     

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