Jazz composer, pianist, and bandleader. Throughout his career Thelonious Monk gained recognition as one of the most adventurous and influential musicians in jazz. Wearing dark glasses and a variety of distinctive hats and given to occasional cryptic pronouncements, Monk was an ideal candidate for the role of jazz's leading eccentric, an image only reinforced by the distinctive spaces and astringencies of his music and his billing as "the high priest of bebop." He was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in Oct. of 1917 and grew up in New York City. Monk was closely associated with the bebop (or bop) movement in the early 1940s. From his first Blue Note recordings in 1947 until he began his influential series of albums for the Riverside label eight years later, Monk was a man ahead of his time, valued, if at all, for his quirky yet undeniably fascinating compositions and frequently challenged regarding his perc! ussive, jarring keyboard attack. In the early 1950's, he formed the first in a series of jazz groups. Monk usually led quartets but occasionally formed an orchestra for concerts and recordings. These included several important tenor saxophonists, including Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Charles Rouse. His music is intensely rhythmic and often humorous. But his daring use of dissonance and his unique piano style made him a controversial figure. Many of Monk's compositions, including "Round Midnight," "52nd Street Theme," "Epistrophy," and "Straight No Chaser," have become jazz standards. Thelonious Monk died from a stroke in February of 1982.
Bio by: Curtis Jackson
Frances Smith Monk