Week 6: Featuring Thelonious Monk

To Learn New Music, We Listen with Focused Attention.

Your instructor and his 14-month-old grandson listening to Aunt Christa and then Thelonious Monk.

February 21, 1949

Louis Armstrong

November 8, 1954

Dave Brubeck

August 20, 1956

Duke Ellington

February 28, 1964

Thelonious Monk

The fifth jazz musician on a TIME cover goes to Wynton Marsalis (October 22, 1990).

Photos Courtesy Time Magazine

FROM LAST WEEK: Harry wants chord substitutions from brother Bill.

Harry Evans (1927-1979)

Bill Evans (1929-1980)

Bill won't give him the changes.

Bill doesn't want to take the joy of discovery away from Harry.

Harry doesn't want to stay on the F chord for four measures.

Harry would like our first class, where we gave answers for
Clementine, Over the River, She'll Be Coming Around, Daisy Bell.

Let's review the answers.

Remember Bill Evans from Last Week: Teach Principles Independent of Style

1. Rhythm

  • Rhythm (European): March (1-2-3-4), Waltz (1-2-3)
  • Rhythm: Monk's Dream (1962)

2. Melody

Monk uses chromatic groups
in his Blues composition
"Straight, No Chaser"

Bill Evans: First Teach Principles Independent of Style

  • Examples using the style of Thelonious Monk
    • Melody: Bemsha Swing (1952)
    • Rhythm: Monk's Dream (recorded 1962) A Remastered Recording
    • Harmony: Straight, No Chaser (1951), Blues, 2-5-1, and 3-6-2-5-1 (Turn-Around)


W. C. (William Christopher) Handy (1873-1958)

St. Louis Blues (1914)

St. Louis Blues: Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton (1959)

Live In Belgium 1959. Louis Armstrong trumpet and vocal, Velma Middleton vocal, Peanuts Hucko clarinet,
Trummy Young trombone, Billy Kyle piano, Mort Herbert bass, Danny Barcelona drums.

The Influence of W. C. Handy and Black Music on the Dominant White Culture in the US

The Blues from Black Music - Signature Songs for WWII Crowd and Their Children

Glenn Miller (1904-1944)Elvis Presley (1935-1977)

YET ANOTHER BLUES, Monk: "Straight, No Chaser"

Image Courtesy https://502brews.com

Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (France 1969)

Thelonious Monk Quartet: Thelonious Monk (piano), Charlie Rousse (sax)
Nate Hygelund (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums)

Advice of Bill Evans - Understand Principles Independent of Style

Fun with the 2-5-1 in the Middle of Each Song

Duke Ellington
Satin Doll (1953)

Jim Carrey (b. 1962) in "The Mask" (1994)
Cuban Pete (1964, José Norman)
Movie Version (1994) with 2-5-1

Cuban Pete (1946 Film)

Middle Section - NO 2-5-1

The Mask (1994 Film)

Middle Section - YES 2-5-1

Desi Arnaz (1917-1886)

Jim Carrey (b. 1962)

Different Stories, original music by José Norman

Images may be copyrighted.

The Mask (1994)

Julius Monk (1912-1995)

Thelonious Monk (1917-1982)

Great grandfather of Thelonious was a slave of the great grandfather of Julius.

Thelonious and Julius probably knew of each other. In every issue of the directory for Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, Thelonious's name followed Julius's in the listing of pianists. They shared a lot more than the piano, the union, a reputation for eccentricity, Latinate first names, and the same surname. Both hailed from North Carolina-Julius from Salisbury in Rowan County (he was born in 1912), Thelonious from Rocky Mount in Edgecombe County (born in 1917). Their geographical origins are not accidental: a century earlier, Julius's great-grandfather, Archibald Monk, had enslaved Thelonious's great-grandfather, John Jack Monk. (from the Robin D. G. Kelley biography of Monk)

Julius Withers Monk took great interest in studying his family's past. During the 1940s, he conducted extensive genealogical research and even commissioned a scholar to produce a detailed family tree of the Monks. Yet he was only interested in the Monks who looked like him, not the nineteen slaves his great-granddaddy owned in 1860. Had he known this history, he might have been inspired to head down to the Five Spot after his show and thank Thelonious personally for the privileged life he was able to enjoy. The scion of one of Salisbury's wealthiest landowners, Dr. Lawrence Monk, Sr., Julius grew up in a well-to-do family and attended the Peabody Institute in Baltimore and the Cincinnati Conservatory. Julius's excellent musical education, like his father's and brother's medical school education, was partly paid for with inherited wealth, the source of which turned out to be the sweat and toil of John Jack Monk and the other African-descended people held in bondage. (from the Robin D. G. Kelley biography of Monk)

Thelonious Monk, Sr., 1930s.

Georgianna Batts (Mother of Monk's Mom) and
Monk's Mom Barbara, Rocky Mount, NC (c. 1910)

Photos Courtesy Thelonious Monk Estate

Rubie Richardson and Monk

Monk's First Love
Song: Ruby, My Dear (1957)

Monk's Wife Nellie (1921-2002), Married: 1947 until Monk's Death in 1982

Song: Crepuscule (Twilight) with Nellie (1947)
Only piece Monk wrote that is not improvised. Video

Monk and His Family (Daughter Boo Boo, Wife Nellie, and Son)

Children named Thelonious and Barbara after Monk's Parents
Song: Boo Boo's Birthday


Thelonious Monk - Boo Boo's Birthday. Dec. 1, 1967. From 'Underground'. Monk (piano),
Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Larry Gales (bass), Ben Riley (drums).

Photo Courtesy Monk's Son

The Baroness Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter (née Rothschild)

Pannonica (1913-1988), British-born jazz patron and writer (Wikipedia)
A Champion of Monk's Work
Song: Pannonica (1956)

Image may be copyrighted.

Monk also played his versions of standards.

Before we hear the Monk version of Dinah.

Dinah (1925) Introduced by Ethel Waters (1896-1977)

Wynton Marsalis discusses Louis Armstrong's version of Dinah.

Wynton Marsalis (b. 1961), Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, NY

Thelonious Monk and Harry Akst (composer of the music to "Dinah")

Thelonious Monk

Harry Akst

Photos may be copyrighted.

Monk: "Ugly Beauty" (1967)
Monk's Only Composed Waltz

Let's first look at "classic" versus "modern" painting.


Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842)

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

The Le Brun (c. 1781) is "Rococo" (Late Baroque).

The van Gogh (1889) is "Post-Impressionist."

The van Gogh captures the idea of "ugly beauty."
In music, we have beauty in dissonance.

Wikipedia: Jolie laide (English translation: "beautiful ugly") is the French expression used to describe someone who is unconventionally beautiful.

See oh jolie laide and The beautiful French notion of jolie laide

My Daughter's Picks

Steve Buscemi

Gary Senise

My Picks

Angelica Huston

Meryl Streep

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Images may be subject to copyright.