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  1. #26

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    He was also, quite possibly... just a little crazy :-)

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  3. #27

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    I have two kind of contradictory thoughts about this. On the one hand, yes, of course he was a bebop musician. He was part of the scene, close with several of the key bop figures (especially Bud Powell), same age as Dizzy. His right hand was full of bebop syncopation, asymmetric cross-the-barline phrases, and altered tones and upper partials, and his tunes were a key part of the bop repertoire.

    On the other hand he was highly idiosyncratic musically, his left hand was stride, and he didn't engage in the kind of uptempo technical pyrotechnics stereotypical of bop. You can hear the commonalities between him and Bud Powell, but the differences are starker.

    I think the real answer to this is that genres don't have sharp boundaries,
    their defining features are mostly identified retrospectively and selectively, and the genres within genres are glossed over. In 1949, bebop was 20 or so guys in Harlem and on 52nd St. consciously trying not to sound like the big bands they apprenticed in, in somewhat different ways (e.g., Bird and Dizzy sound quite different). In 1989, it was army of Bird and Bud Powell clones.

  4. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    He was also, quite possibly... just a little crazy :-)
    I'm probably crazier than Monk ... but what the hell does that have to do with playing the be-bop phrases.

  5. #29

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    'Crazy' is a casual everyday term, not a clinical one. He was bipolar and almost certainly medically wrongly treated. He didn't play bebop, that's the point of the thread, but because of the disconnect in his personality he tended to play disconnected music which was called bebop.

  6. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    'Crazy' is a casual everyday term, not a clinical one. He was bipolar and almost certainly medically wrongly treated. He didn't play bebop, that's the point of the thread, but because of the disconnect in his personality he tended to play disconnected music which was called bebop.
    Here’s a link to a great NPR interview from 2010 with Robin Kelley, who wrote a wonderful biography of Monk. He discusses this in detail.

  7. #31

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    Absolutely, that's a good interview.

  8. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    I have never thought of Monk as Bebop. Am I mad?
    Under the dictionary definition of bebop should be Monk's picture.

    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit
    Bebop at the highest levels was very competitive. Jam sessions were cutting contests, solos were often frenetic, and a lot of the push was to be faster, cooler, and more “creative” than the rest. Heads were written to achieve a complexity that only the composer could master. This wasn’t a bop invention - it’s been there from baroque times and probably even crept into early chants. Liszt was notorious for doing the same thing.

    I don’t think Monk cared at all about any of that, so he wrote and played what moved him. His unorthodoxy was honest, and he expressed himself differently from most. During one concert I attended in ‘67 or so, he got up and walked around the piano for an entire solo to bass and drum “comping”, without playing a note. He also played the entire concert in his topcoat and hat. I’m sure these were statements, but for the life of me I have no idea what he was trying to say. Maybe he just wanted to stimulate thought.
    Monk was a performance artist of the piano. Kind of like Frank Zappa, especially in his early days.

    Quote Originally Posted by kris
    Perhaps he knew that writing beautiful jazz compositions was about more than just playing quick phrases.
    I do not know.
    Nobody can tell what was going on in Monk's head back then.
    Sadly, even Monk couldn't tell what was going on in Monk's head by the end.

  9. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen
    Sometimes Monk sounds like he's never sat at a piano before, but he always sounds good.
    It takes a lot of talent to achieve something like that.

  10. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    'Crazy' is a casual everyday term, not a clinical one. He was bipolar and almost certainly medically wrongly treated. He didn't play bebop, that's the point of the thread, but because of the disconnect in his personality he tended to play disconnected music which was called bebop.
    NOBODY before the '80s or so was treated "correctly" with serious mental disorders. Didn't matter whether you were a rich executive or a disheveled jazz player. The treatments were almost worse than the disease.

    Treatment of mental illness has ALWAYS sucked, and even today (though much better) it still sucks for too many people.

    (Indigenous cultures perhaps being somewhat excepted, having read recently a fair amount about native American "medicine men" and shamans.)

  11. #35
    I think his drug use had a lot to do with precipitating his mental illness.

    Monk isn't the definition of bebop lol. If we agree on the definition of bebop as the rhythmic 8th note single note line approach. If you want to try to revise bebop as something else then fine. Monk participated in the community during bebop and contributed to the music, but he wasn't bebop.

  12. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55
    I think his drug use had a lot to do with precipitating his mental illness.

    Monk isn't the definition of bebop lol. If we agree on the definition of bebop as the rhythmic 8th note single note line approach. If you want to try to revise bebop as something else then fine. Monk participated in the community during bebop and contributed to the music, but he wasn't bebop.
    That is going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to determine. Most mentally ill people use drugs, some to cope with their mental illness. So which came first?

    I think that definition of bebop is overly simplified. In any event, it's not a set of time signatures, it's an attitude.

  13. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen
    Sometimes Monk sounds like he's never sat at a piano before, but he always sounds good.
    I get the first part of your statement.

  14. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    That is going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to determine. Most mentally ill people use drugs, some to cope with their mental illness. So which came first?

    I think that definition of bebop is overly simplified. In any event, it's not a set of time signatures, it's an attitude.
    Recreational drugs don't help anyone's mental health lol. But yeah, impossible to determine, only my opinion.

    I don't subscribe to the idea that any genre is an attitude. Parker/Powell lines and that language is the definition of bebop. Other ways of playing were involved in bebop, but I think that's the main characterization. For example, I really like the sensitivity in the bebop players' slower playing such as Tadd Dameron's If you could see me now. However, that isn't the definition of bebop.

  15. #39

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    Monk was quoted as having the strategy that you had to do something different to stand out as a jazz musician.
    Yet he never played 'free' jazz, no matter how dissonant his playing got. He was always aware of the form, time, and harmonic structure of the tune he was playing. In fact he was completely repulsed when he heard Ornette Coleman's playing.
    He always swung when he played. He had a great sense of contrast when he used a great 8th note-type player like Charlie Rouse, so he could propel the music with his wildly syncopated and dissonant comping, while Rouse swung in his own way.
    On a less pronounced level, Eddie Costa would do the same thing with Tal Farlow's playing.
    The press was responsible for giving him the nickname of "The High Priest of Bebop".
    Jimmy Raney didn't consider Monk a bebop player.

  16. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    Monk was quoted as having the strategy that you had to do something different to stand out as a jazz musician. Yet he never played 'free' jazz, no matter how dissonant his playing got. He was always aware of the form, time, and harmonic structure of the tune he was playing.
    He always swung when he played. He had a great sense of contrast when he used a great 8th note-type player like Charlie Rouse, so he could propel the music with his wildly syncopated and dissonant comping, while Rouse swung in his own way.
    That's what I love about T Monk!

  17. #41

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    The mindset of Thelonious Monk seems elusive, but I've always really enjoyed this recording of Monk practicing a number.

    You get to hear him try out ideas and work on getting the timing/accents just right for the effects he is going for. It's rare to hear the masters working on their craft; we usually only get to know them through their professionally released recordings and stage performances.

    I hope someone out there hasn't heard this yet and gets some of the same enjoyment out of it:

    Last edited by Endaro; 10-25-2021 at 04:20 PM.

  18. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    Most mentally ill people use drugs, some to cope with their mental illness.
    I don’t want to stir up a debate here, but I can’t remain silent in response to that statement. Although I don’t think you meant it as such, it could easily be interpreted as pejorative and an indictment of the mentally ill. If we’re to help fellow musicians with mental / emotional problems, we need to foster understanding and a desire to make it better. The quoted statement may not prompt some others to support those goals.

    We, more than most, should be well informed and well intentioned regarding emotional and other manifestations of mental illness. The data clearly show that mental illness is a common problem among musicians. From a 2018 study out of Princeton comes the very upsetting information that

    “……about 73 percent of musicians report symptoms of mental illness. And among those with mental illness, 50 percent will battle addiction over the course of their lives.”

    The data show that about 10% of Americans with suspected or diagnosed mental illness receive any evaluation and treatment for it in the US. Most (along with most of the people with whom they interact) deny, ignore, and/or otherwise pretend there’s no problem. Many seek relief in drugs of some kind, and alcohol is by far the most abused. But if you look at the data, alcohol abuse is just as prevalent among those of us deemed normal. Based purely on data, we may be people in glass houses throwing stones.

    If there are data showing that “most mentally ill people use drugs”, please provide them. Hopefully, they will be stratified into therapeutic and non-medical cohorts since the use of prescribed therapeutics is laudable. FWIW, I have no connection with any person or part of the mental health community. But like the rest of you, I’ve known and performed with some seriously ill players - and they deserve help, not generalizations.

  19. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Endaro
    The mindset of Thelonious Monk seems elusive, but I've always really enjoyed this recording of Monk practicing a number.

    You get to hear him try out ideas and work on getting the timing/accents just right for the affects he is going for. It's rare to hear the masters working on their craft; we usually only get to know them through their professionally released recordings and stage performances.

    I hope someone out there hasn't heard this yet and gets some of the same enjoyment out of it:


  20. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    NOBODY before the '80s or so was treated "correctly" with serious mental disorders. Didn't matter whether you were a rich executive or a disheveled jazz player. The treatments were almost worse than the disease.

    Treatment of mental illness has ALWAYS sucked, and even today (though much better) it still sucks for too many people.
    I know, that's why I said it.

  21. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit
    I don’t want to stir up a debate here, but I can’t remain silent in response to that statement. Although I don’t think you meant it as such, it could easily be interpreted as pejorative and an indictment of the mentally ill. If we’re to help fellow musicians with mental / emotional problems, we need to foster understanding and a desire to make it better. The quoted statement may not prompt some others to support those goals.

    We, more than most, should be well informed and well intentioned regarding emotional and other manifestations of mental illness. The data clearly show that mental illness is a common problem among musicians. From a 2018 study out of Princeton comes the very upsetting information that

    “……about 73 percent of musicians report symptoms of mental illness. And among those with mental illness, 50 percent will battle addiction over the course of their lives.”

    The data show that about 10% of Americans with suspected or diagnosed mental illness receive any evaluation and treatment for it in the US. Most (along with most of the people with whom they interact) deny, ignore, and/or otherwise pretend there’s no problem. Many seek relief in drugs of some kind, and alcohol is by far the most abused. But if you look at the data, alcohol abuse is just as prevalent among those of us deemed normal. Based purely on data, we may be people in glass houses throwing stones.

    If there are data showing that “most mentally ill people use drugs”, please provide them. Hopefully, they will be stratified into therapeutic and non-medical cohorts since the use of prescribed therapeutics is laudable. FWIW, I have no connection with any person or part of the mental health community. But like the rest of you, I’ve known and performed with some seriously ill players - and they deserve help, not generalizations.
    Absolutely, and having met many of them, it's quite true. Thankfully it's something I've avoided, possibly because I've always regarded the music as a sideline.

  22. #46

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    Let's not forget when it was and how long ago.
    All jazz musicians have played or will play his compositions.
    Perhaps in these compositions there are be-bop phrases hidden.
    This is the genius of an artist.

  23. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    'Crazy' is a casual everyday term, not a clinical one. He was bipolar and almost certainly medically wrongly treated. He didn't play bebop, that's the point of the thread, but because of the disconnect in his personality he tended to play disconnected music which was called bebop.
    I have to admit that sometimes I get crazy from too much music.
    I have well over 1000 CDs.

  24. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55
    I don't subscribe to the idea that any genre is an attitude. Parker/Powell lines and that language is the definition of bebop. Other ways of playing were involved in bebop, but I think that's the main characterization. For example, I really like the sensitivity in the bebop players' slower playing such as Tadd Dameron's If you could see me now. However, that isn't the definition of bebop.
    I agree. A musical genre has musical characteristics, which can be described or denoted. It is interesting that Monk did not play bebop solos. What did he do, musically, that was bebop?



  25. #49

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    Does it matter if he was playing be-bop or not?
    After all, he played with musicians who played be-bop.
    did he play there because there were no pianists?
    I do not think so.
    He was just different.

  26. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit
    I don’t want to stir up a debate here, but I can’t remain silent in response to that statement. Although I don’t think you meant it as such, it could easily be interpreted as pejorative and an indictment of the mentally ill. If we’re to help fellow musicians with mental / emotional problems, we need to foster understanding and a desire to make it better. The quoted statement may not prompt some others to support those goals.

    We, more than most, should be well informed and well intentioned regarding emotional and other manifestations of mental illness. The data clearly show that mental illness is a common problem among musicians. From a 2018 study out of Princeton comes the very upsetting information that

    “……about 73 percent of musicians report symptoms of mental illness. And among those with mental illness, 50 percent will battle addiction over the course of their lives.”

    The data show that about 10% of Americans with suspected or diagnosed mental illness receive any evaluation and treatment for it in the US. Most (along with most of the people with whom they interact) deny, ignore, and/or otherwise pretend there’s no problem. Many seek relief in drugs of some kind, and alcohol is by far the most abused. But if you look at the data, alcohol abuse is just as prevalent among those of us deemed normal. Based purely on data, we may be people in glass houses throwing stones.

    If there are data showing that “most mentally ill people use drugs”, please provide them. Hopefully, they will be stratified into therapeutic and non-medical cohorts since the use of prescribed therapeutics is laudable. FWIW, I have no connection with any person or part of the mental health community. But like the rest of you, I’ve known and performed with some seriously ill players - and they deserve help, not generalizations.
    Well actually there is a lot of evidence that serious mental illness and substance abuse are linked. To quote one prominent source (drugabuse.gov): “Multiple national population surveys have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder and vice versa.”

    Part 1: The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

    What I said was a bit nonspecific though. I certainly didn’t mean it as pejorative. It is my observation as a medical provider that persons with poorly controlled mental health disorders have a very high rate of concurrent substance abuse. That’s not to say that so many of the people around us who live with mental health disorders and have successful lives use drugs regularly.

    I have a lot of personal experience with MHD. My son has a form of bipolar disorder. My ex-wife was treated for depression. Several of my children have been on medications for depression/anxiety. A close friend of mine in college had a psychotic break leading to a diagnosis of schizophrenia, leading him to drop out of school.

    I did a lot of research into the link between substance abuse and MHD when my son was first diagnosed with BPD. He was a frequent marijuana user and was taking prescribed medication for ADHD. It still remains inconclusive in the medical literature whether marijuana and Ritalin (taken at medicinal doses) can trigger psychosis. It is still unclear if other substances can lead to a chronic MHD in persons who were not otherwise predisposed to such.

    (Yes we all know of people who “took too much acid” or speed or cocaine and went “crazy”, e.g., Peter Green and Syd Barrett.) That doesn’t prove to a scientific degree of certainty that they are the sole CAUSE of chronic psychosis or serious MHD.)

    Certain recreational drugs may actually ameliorate symptoms of mental health disorders. There are a lot of people with undiagnosed or untreated MHDs who use marijuana regularly for instance and are able to function quite well.

    Anyway, a long-winded answer, but yes our views on mental health and treatment of the mentally ill leave a lot to be desired. Something similar could be said about substance use. Other cultures, particularly indigenous cultures and some ancient cultures, do a much better job of allowing persons with different ways of perceiving the world to navigate in society, and they often have a very permissive view of medicinal or ritual use of mind-altering substances. That would not be true of mainstream 20th Century America for sure.