Today In Jazz

Happy Birthday Monk!

October 10

Very few musicians manage to reinvent an instrument- pianist/composer Thelonious Monk (born on this date in 1917 in Rocky Mount, NC ) is one of the handful to create a new approach to the piano. Certainly, no one before Monk ever drew the sounds from the instrument that he did. But it wasn’t just the physical aspect that defined his originality. Monk’s compositions and improvisations continue to reverberate to this day – Jason Moran, Craig Taborn, Jonathan Batiste, Vijay Iyer, to name just a few, have found great inspiration in Monk’s signal achievements, as have players of all instruments.

The subject of an excellent documentary, Straight, No Chaser, and a distinguished biography by Robin Kelly, Monk can be seen in all of his whirling dervish-ness here in a rare video from Poland.

And here is an unusual example of him playing a solo piano set of someone else’s music – Ellington’s!