The unconventional, bizarre genius of Thelonious Monk, in one piano solo
10 October 2016, 17:13
A moment of bizarre and irresistible genius from the bebop legend that is Thelonious Sphere Monk.
Eccentric, enigmatic, extraordinary - no one in jazz has really played like Thelonious Monk. He employed tone clusters, angular fragments, whole-tone scales and bizarre moments of repetition, space and contrast.
It's fair to say he wasn't too bogged down with technique, lightness of touch or bandstand formalities - but when everything is so incredibly musical and individual, it becomes irresistible.
Here's one of our favourite solos - over the blues changes of his composition Blue Monk. Notice how he's just standing with his back to the piano during the sax solo, then follows with his piano solo, working himself through ever-more ecstatic repeated and varied chromatic clusters, dashed off like they're nothing. Then, his concluding spikes at the piano, before leaving his seat and hobbling away.