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Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk”

The Daily Music Break periodically re-post artists and posts from earlier in the site’s run. Here is the great Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk.” This post originally appeared on April 6, 2012.

There’s never been a sound or a persona quite like Thelonious Sphere Monk’s. This short biography at the Monk Zone strips away a lot of the mystique. Monk, according to this version, was a family man and a savvy veteran of the New York City jazz scene. The stories of his excessive eccentricities were inventions of the press. Perhaps, perhaps not. PBS offers more information and links.

Monk was interesting to look at as well as to listen too. Perhaps that’s the reason there are great videos available of him. Here are two ‘Round Midnight and Epistrophy. I find Nutty, which I believe is a bit lesser known, easier to understand.

A commenter at YouTube provided the specifics. In addition to Monk, Charlie Rouse is on tenor sax, Ben Riley is the drummer and Larry Gales plays bass. The video was recorded live in Norway in 1966.

Links to the The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and a discography provide more insight.

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Also of Interest

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.