Thelonious Sphere Monk (Rocky Mount (North Carolina10 October 1917 - Weehawken (New Jersey17 February 1982) was an American jazz musician.


[hide]*1 In Walked Monk

In Walked Monk[Edit]Edit

Came on 10 October 1917 Thelonious Monk (also called Sphere ) in the world in Rocky Mount in North Carolina, in the United States of America. He spent his childhood and his youth in New York, where his family from 1923 stayed at the black quarter of Juan Hill. Especially in this neighborhood, there was always an active music scene.This will have contributed that Thelonious Monk music at this resort is his whole life.

When Thelonious about ten years old, his family got from a good friend a piano as a gift, and his older sister Marion got since that time keyboard instruction. The small Thelonious watched as his sister regularly practiced and he learned it pretty fast read notes. Monk later said even that he learn to play piano has only to look over the shoulder. This watch and observe he found not enough in the long term, especially because he was fascinated by the instrument. Therefore he began to learn to play piano himself. At the age of 11 he got piano lessons for the first time correct and according to Monks said he began immediately thereafter to interest in jazz. Unlike many other families respected the family Monk the musical ambitions of their youngest shoot. In fact, Monks always supported him and allowed him to mother.

Thelonious came fast to the audience: he accompanied the church choir of the local Baptist community, in which also his mother sang. He also earned his first tracks as a dance musician at parties. In the meantime he became interested in the jazz even further. Duke EllingtonFats WallerEarl Hines and in particular James p. Johnson, who lived in his neighborhood, attracted his attention. At the age of 17, he held school for seen, to take a comprehensive tour of the United States with a gospel group, an evangelical preacher and a female ' miracle healer '. In addition to the accompanying band existed further still from a Monk trumpet player, a drummerand a saxophonist .If they are installed in a city, joining the local jazz scene and found Thelonious quickly after his working day, he played in the evening, then on various jam sessions.

Kansas City became an important place on his journey. There it made Monk namely knowledge with the pianist Mary Lou Williams, which he clearly managed to impress with his piano playing. He made then still use many standard techniques, even though he is from that moment on his own style with modern harmonies developed.

Minton's Playhouse[Edit]Edit

After this tour, Monk back home, to his mother and to the New York music scene. To be in his living he did occasional jobs in bars and dance halls. In his spare time, he worked on his own musical performances.During this time he had friendly relations with people who would be important in the future in the world of jazz: the drummer Kenny Clarke, the pianist Bud Powell and the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.

This circle of friends came together in regularly in the 1940s, Minton's Playhouse, a jazz club on 118th street in Harlem, New York. Here got the new generation musicians a chance to prove itself and to present its ideas. To these musicians in their music sessions becoming a rhythm section, gave the owner of the club, Henry Minton, a permanent contract to Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke and bassist Nick Fenton. Thus he created the basic conditions from which later the Be-Bop.

Monk and Clarke were also Minton's, where the musical core of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie ChristianDon Byas and played Art Blakey . In this music sessions, which until the early morning hours could continue, cultivated their own concepts and the young musicians developed a new jazz style, which would later go down in music history as Be-Bop. Also other musicians, big stars as trumpeter Roy Eldridge and tenor saxophonist Lester Young, improvised around the Be-Bop music, but the pace of the new crop was too great!

Dizzy Gillespie describes it as follows in his autobiography To be or Not To bop: Kenny Clarke delivered the rhythmic Foundation and Monk the complicated akkoordensekwenties.

In the year 1939 entered the Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, accompanied by the Jay McShann Band from Kansas City, for the first time in New York. his musical development seemed to get in the same flow and direction as the young musicians from Minton's. Parker played again the following year in New York and its revolutionary game pulled the necessary attention in the jazz world. Gillespie and Clarke knocked at the newcomer and also took him on in Minton's Playhouse. The break-through of the Be-Bop was still only a matter of time.

Thelonious had now decided to only want to live from his music. He went from one club to another, played keyboard and slept as he was, where he was also tired, sometimes on the boards, behind the keyboard. He is not in the least interested in the Be-Bop-typical pace, that the basis of standard compositions such as: I Got Rhythm. On the other hand, he starts to compose own themes. In this way, for example, around this time ' Round Midnight, one of the many Monk-classics that nowadays belong to the standard program of the jazz musician. He has come back from the Be-Bop scene.

His friend Bud Powell comes to the fore and is the prototype of the Be-Boppianist.

The Be-Bop in the meantime had continued and spread throughout the country, and Be-Bop bands regularly got contracts outside of New York. Monk wished not to leave his quarters, stayed home and worked further to his compositions.

He was only rarely as a musician. When in the years ' 44-' 45 the tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, a friend of Monk, in the city came, he took him for concerts and recording sessions in his band. Monk was not particularly appreciated by the public. For example, Hawkins spoke about a performance at the Onyx club, where the audience Monk total disapprove. To Hawkins was asked every night, when he finally could afford a real pianist.

Nevertheless, Monk was not willing to musical compromises. He stayed home, composed and carried its work are for. They were mostly young musicians who visited him and listened to his performances. This Monk, taking the young musicians the concentrated exclusively by the play and listen of the guests, it instilled its pieces. This threw is paying off: many musicians of the new generation, among them Sonny Rollinsand Miles Davis , could familiarize themselves with the complicated music, and were consequently able to perform this music itself publicly.

Genius of Modern Music[Edit]Edit

In 1947, Monk than yet another chance, in the form of his first record deal. The two Jewish immigrants and jazz lovers Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff had left Germany in the 1930s and in 1939 founded an independent record company called Blue Note Records. After a few years more traditional artists such as Sidney Bechet to have proposed, both jazz lovers focuses more on the modern jazz and Monk for with his first album title:Genius of Modern Music. Monk at the age of 30 still lived with his mother. The Blue Note recordings were unsuccessful. In the year 1948 he was named in the "Down beat critic polling", in the Group of the best jazz musicians of the country, but when there was not voted for him in the following year, seemed to approach the end of his career. Appearance unchanged, but inwardly exasperated, he withdrew and insulated itself more and more.

Monk was pursued by bad luck. The year 1951 was the absolute low point of his career. During a car ride with just ' junkie ' Bud Powell, Monk came up in a vehicles control. Powell put out Monk, Monk hid a small Pack of heroin and as fate willing, police found the heroin between the toes of Monk. Monk had to 60 days are lost and thereby also its cabaret card. The loss of his card meant that Monk in no club still should take office where alcohol was donated. This meant for a jazz musician as much as.

Of Prestige to Riverside[Edit]Edit

In 1952 offered the young record label Prestige Monk into a contract. That he could not go with Blue Note was clear. And that Lion and Wolff him no sticks for the wheels stakes, he took in thanks to. Later he had to see that his new firm committed itself substantially less for him than the actual jazz lovers at Blue Note Records. So he saw in a period of two years just seven days a recording studio on the inside. Despite this unfavorable situation arose however very good recordings with Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis label star. Monk, however, still remained financially the losers side.

In 1955 Charlie Parker dies and the great days of the Be-Bop than counted. Hard Bop and Cool Jazz are the styles that are announcing in the early 1950s. Since Monk also was not profitable for Prestige, his contract was dissolved in 1955. Then he started to work for the Riverside label. As with Blue Note were the owners of Riverside Records be purebred fans and they offered a certain existence and a real artistic Thelonious Monk at home to. Orrin Keepnews and Billy Grauer, the directors of Riverside, had seemingly less interest in the artist wanted to make money quickly and Monk the opportunity to develop in the longer term.

Riverside, Monk finally in the possibility of ' thing ' without compromise. Historically, the Riverside years the most meaningful artistic period in the whole career of the pianist, with different harmonies and strange rhythms. After years of efforts by his girlfriend Pannonica "Nica" de Koenigswarter, a Rothschild family dating from the aristocrat, could recover his cabaret card Monk early 1957, making him for the first time in clubs could occur.

After a carnal dispute between Miles Davis and John Coltrane in the Café Bohemia offered Monk Coltrane a job in his own ensemble. Coltrane first withdrew back to free himself of his heroin addiction, after which he encouraged weerkeerde to New York to participate in Monks so-called "home teaching" and accordingly with the new Thelonious Monk Quartet recordings and to act. This commitment was a major triumph for both and further large footage of Coleman Hawkins and Gerry Mulligan among others followed.

Nica de Koenigswarter and Monk at the end of 1957 had problems again with the police. After a racist incident in a hotel in Delaware, the Court found innocent Monk guilty of trespassing. Consequence was that he lost his cabaret card again. Monk had in the meantime be fine in the spotlight: his compositions have been played now by the critics loved and he took one album after another.

His first Orchestra recording in the New York Town Hall followed, as well as a successful tour to San Francisco, in addition to live performances and a solo album. The tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse was around this time a regular contributor to Monks band. By his reticence, his discipline and his art he certainly contributed to the continued success of the band. He was then may not be of the same class as his predecessors John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, Johnny Griffin, but the musical partnership with Monk that lasted several years, came into the jazz world but rarely.

CBS years[Edit]Edit

The continued success of Thelonious Monk also found hearing on the executive floors of the CBS group, which recruited him prompt. The financial perspectives that CBS offered to Monk, could not give him a small firm as Riverside, and they needed their star Monk. By the award of the rights of a concert could the Exchange from one firm to the other satisfactory for both parties. Monks first recording sessions for CBS in the fall of 1962 took place. Next to Charlie Rouse came his bassist John Ore and drummer Frank Dunlop in the studio to the albums Monk's Dream and then Criss Cross . First-class concerts in Tokyo, followed the traditional Newport Jazz festival and an engagement in the Five Spot Cafe. The pinnacle of success was the appearance of a cover story in Time Magazineabout Monk, that could appear until early 1964 since shortly before the initially planned publication date president John f. Kennedy was assassinated and the magazine had therefore to quite different messages. The honor on the cover of Time Magazine , was only still to three other jazz musicians reserved.

Monk was present at the most important jazz meetings in the u.s.a., Europe and even Japan. His Quartet, now with Ben Riley as a drummer and bassist Larry Gales as made in 1967 regular recordings for CBS. Monk also continued his penchant for rare hats wedding.

In late 1968, slowly but surely, CBS lost interest in Thelonious Monk. When CBS asked Monk to pieces of the Beatles, kept this fully for views. After finishing the lucrative contract with CBS left Gales and Riley the Quartet, after which Rouse and Monk standing with varying line-ups had to play. That, of course, the great performances of the aggravated complicated Monk compositions. The high quality of the earlier concerts could be insured and if not more continuous production worked Rouse such on the nerves that he, too, Monk left in 1970.

Monk kept continue, sometimes less successful. In 1971 and ' 72, he went on an All Star tour of Europe and played there under the name Giants of Jazz together with Dizzy Gillespie and other old friends from Minton's.

Emerged in London In the autumn of 1971 the last recordings of Thelonious Monk as band leader. Solo and in trio with Al McKibbon and Art Blakey proved Monk here again at the end of his career his incomparable genius. Between 1973 and 1976 trad Monk still extremely rarely on and he gave his last concert on 30 June 1976.

Thelonious Monk died on 17 February 1982 as a result of a brain disorder.


  • After Hours at Minton's (1943)
  • Genius Of Modern Music: Volume 1 (1947-1948)
  • Genius Of Modern Music: Volume 2 (1947-1952)
  • Thelonious Monk Trio (1952)
  • Monk (1953)
  • Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins (1953)
  • Thelonious Monk plays the Music of Duke Ellington (1955)
  • The Unique Thelonious Monk (1956)
  • Brilliant Corners (1957)
  • Thelonious Himself (1957)
  • Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane (1957)
  • Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk (1957)
  • Monk's Music (1957)
  • Mulligan Meets Monk (1957, with Gerry Mulligan)
  • Blues Five Spot (1958)
  • Thelonious in Action (1958)
  • Misterioso (1958)
  • The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall (1959)
  • 5 by Monk by 5 (1958)
  • Thelonious Alone in San Francisco (1958)
  • Thelonious Monk at the Blackhawk (1960)
  • Monk in France (1961)
  • Monk's Dream (1962)
  • Criss Cross (1962)
  • Monk in Tokyo (1963)
  • Miles and Monk at Newport (1963, with gig by Miles Davis)
  • Big Band and Quartet in Concert (1963)
  • It's Monk's Time (1964)
  • Monk. (1964)
  • Solo Monk (1964)
  • Live at the It Club (1964)
  • Live at the Jazz Workshop (1964)
  • Straight, No Chaser (1966)
  • Underground (1967)
  • Monk's Blues (1968)
  • The London Collection (1971, three volumes)
  • Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall (2005)

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