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  1. #51

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    If You asked Monk himself, he would answer that he INVENTED the bebop! He showed Bud Powell all the secrets.

    He saw bebop as a new way of handling the melody and harmony, not playing 8th notes or using drugs.

    He always insisted that the solos must raise from the melody of the song, not from scales or something like that. I remember that he even shouted some new sax player during the gig that "play the melody!" (I might not remember this correctly, but the idea is that).

    The Robin Kelley bookThelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original is excellent work about Monk's persona, music, and thinking. It is also a good guide in what happened in jazz in 30s–80s.
    Adam Neely has made an interesting dive in the Monk's famous advice:


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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    Well actually there is a lot of evidence that serious mental illness and substance abuse are linked.
    Thanks - that’s a much more accurate and helpful summary of the situation than “most mentally ill people use drugs”. Both drug abuse and mental illness carry heavy stigmata inflicted on them by a society that seems to find shunning them preferable to treating them. I strongly believe that the net collective cost of effective intervention has to be lower than that of our current “approach” of sticking our heads in the sand. There would be great benefits to public health, safety, and spending from reducing the burdens of these problems on those who suffer from them.

    Monk had a few brushes with the law over drugs, and he was almost certainly pathologically bipolar at the very least. I’d love to know how treatment and sobriety would have affected creativity like his. Many musicians and other artists over the years have claimed that they couldn’t have been as creative without substance abuse. But critical assessment of their work often suggests otherwise.

  4. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris
    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.
    Bebop ... jazz ... it's all ONE language with different dialects and/or styles. Monk spoke the same language as Bird and Diz and all the other masters. Guy just had his own voice.

    DB

  5. #54

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    I don’t think Monk is like other bop players at all. There are things in common. Both he and Bud played the whole tone scale a lot for instance, but he really was his own thing.

    most players of pretty much any instrument in the 1950s sounded broadly akin because they were all influenced by Bird.

    This is something Cootie Williams commented on (although I think it’s unfair to say they sounded ‘the same.’) Everyone adopted the bop way of building lines, and older traditions like improvising on the melody, playing around with tone colour (like Cootie) went out of fashion by and large.

    And then there was Monk doing his own thing.

  6. #55

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    I don’t think Monk is like other bop players at all. There are things in common. Both he and Bud played the whole tone scale a lot for instance, but he really was his own thing. Monk is his own strand of progressive jazz growing out of the swing era music at right angles to Bird. Sometimes I feel he has more in common with James P Johnson, his teacher. All those sixths and tenths…. But his unique timing… no one plays like that…

    most players of pretty much any instrument in the 1950s sounded broadly akin because they were all influenced by Bird.

    This is something Cootie Williams commented on (although I think it’s unfair to say they sounded ‘the same.’) Everyone adopted the bop way of building lines, and older traditions like improvising on the melody, playing around with tone colour (like Cootie) went out of fashion by and large.

    And then there was Monk doing his own thing.

  7. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit
    Thanks - that’s a much more accurate and helpful summary of the situation than “most mentally ill people use drugs”. Both drug abuse and mental illness carry heavy stigmata inflicted on them by a society that seems to find shunning them preferable to treating them. I strongly believe that the net collective cost of effective intervention has to be lower than that of our current “approach” of sticking our heads in the sand. There would be great benefits to public health, safety, and spending from reducing the burdens of these problems on those who suffer from them.

    Monk had a few brushes with the law over drugs, and he was almost certainly pathologically bipolar at the very least. I’d love to know how treatment and sobriety would have affected creativity like his. Many musicians and other artists over the years have claimed that they couldn’t have been as creative without substance abuse. But critical assessment of their work often suggests otherwise.
    He did spend time in a mental institution. A sax player I knew said they wanted him to give a performance for his fellow patients. They introduced him to the audience, telling them, "Mr. Monk is a famous jazz musician, and would like to play a concert for you today".

    Monk just sat up there, staring at them for a few minutes, then slammed the piano closed and yelled at them, "My dick is bigger than yours!"
    That was the end of the concert.
    I never found that in any of the books written about him. Probably circulated among musicians, like Bill Crow's stories.

  8. #57

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    Barry Harris once told a story of when he was living with Monk in Pannonica De Koenigswarter's house in Weehawken. Barry came out of his room and heard some burning 8th note lines on "Indiana" (in the bebop style) coming from Monk's room. He thought "this couldn't be Monk"- both because 1. It didn't sound like his style
    2. he hadn't heard Monk practice much since he had been living with him.

    He opens the door to Monk's room and was surprised to see it was him playing all along! Monk stopped playing, turned around, and said "shhh... don't tell anybody."

  9. #58
    What!

    See I know he had the skill. There's just no recording of it lol.

  10. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fivefun
    Barry Harris once told a story of when he was living with Monk in Pannonica De Koenigswarter's house in Weehawken. Barry came out of his room and heard some burning 8th note lines on "Indiana" (in the bebop style) coming from Monk's room. He thought "this couldn't be Monk"- both because 1. It didn't sound like his style
    2. he hadn't heard Monk practice much since he had been living with him.

    He opens the door to Monk's room and was surprised to see it was him playing all along! Monk stopped playing, turned around, and said "shhh... don't tell anybody."

  11. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fivefun
    Barry Harris once told a story of when he was living with Monk in Pannonica De Koenigswarter's house in Weehawken. Barry came out of his room and heard some burning 8th note lines on "Indiana" (in the bebop style) coming from Monk's room. He thought "this couldn't be Monk"- both because 1. It didn't sound like his style
    2. he hadn't heard Monk practice much since he had been living with him.

    He opens the door to Monk's room and was surprised to see it was him playing all along! Monk stopped playing, turned around, and said "shhh... don't tell anybody."
    Haha I love this story so much. I hadn't heard it...

  12. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Monk was 20 years ahead of bebop while he was hanging with the cats creating it.
    From what read in Robin D. G. Kelley's excellent biog there was some resentment there towards cats he taught and who then went on to some commercial success (as much as can be had in jazz anyway) w/o hiring or even mentioning him to the press. That had to hurt.

    But musically they were different animals completely, so I wouldn't agree that he was 20 years ahead. I think he seemed to look both forward and back. I hear a LOT of the stride-era 'ivory ticklers' in Monk---especially solo. And in groups I've heard him play a stride left hand on a ballad. Never heard Bud do that.

    I think what he did for bebop (other than being a major composer) was be an early architect, in harmony (like with the 'minor 6th with the 6th in the bass---later called Min 7 b 5 or half-diminished---for one thing) and in rhythm. He was there at the beginning, pace-setting.

    And FWIW, whatever his personal beefs about not being acknowledged or hired, those guys---Gillespie; Parker, et. al---all had deep respect for him...
    Last edited by joelf; 10-26-2021 at 06:06 AM.

  13. #62

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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.
    I've not only interacted with musicians who were thought to have mental illness (and did use drugs and/or alcohol) I've grappled with degrees of it it myself, in my family and personally. I'm one of the lucky ones, for reasons I won't bore anyone with. I will say that heroin was offered to me by one musician I respected. Fortunately for me, I said no.

    The elders I hung out with in the '80s---who taught me much about the music and the life---many were using and boozing. For one thing they were black, and had to live with pressures and hatreds I'll never know. To be a black jazz musician, even as late as in the '80s, was to be a double outcast. Add to that the level of creativity they were at---heads always going---you can understand that a buffer was sought.

    I never considered any of these guys mentally ill---not that I'm a qualified psychiatrist to make those calls. What I did see was people with the purest hearts I've ever known, people who lived for the art and the heart. They WERE intense, and with intense people sparks do fly. I witnessed a few ugly scenes---and apologies all around afterwards. It's the sensitivity that comes with the territory. It's hard to handle sometimes, and combined with poverty and rejection by society at large, escapes are sought. True, music itself is very therapeutic, but some very intense people feel they need more. You can't play 24 hours a day, and for many gigs were hard to come by.

    I mean, yeah, there were a few wackos, but on balance not THAT many more than what I've observed in society generally. I remember a great friend of mine back then, Clarence 'C'. Sharpe's answer when I asked about the 'legendary Hassan'. I'd heard he was crazy, and knew he knew him, them both being from Philly. C. thought a minute and said 'Well, he was a bit eccentric'.

    That's as good an insight as I've heard---and I say 'So what?' We need a little eccentricity, as long as it's not harming anyone...
    Last edited by joelf; 10-25-2021 at 09:34 PM.

  14. #63

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    All Ellington (1st half), solo in '69. Caravan is a standout.

    That inimitable stride left hand!:

    Last edited by joelf; 10-25-2021 at 10:58 PM.

  15. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    From what read in Robin D. G. Kelley's excellent biog there was some resentment there towards cats he taught and went on to some commercial success (as much as can be had in jazz anyway) w/o hiring or even mentioning him to the press. That had to hurt.

    But musically they were different animals completely, so I wouldn't agree that he was 20 years ahead. I think he seemed to look both forward and back. I hear a LOT of the stride-era 'ivory ticklers' in Monk---especially solo. And in groups I've heard him play a stride left hand on a ballad. Never heard Bud do that.

    I think what he did for bebop (other than being a major composer) was be an early architect, in harmony (like with the 'minor 6th with the 6th in the bass---later called Min 7 b 5 or half-diminished---for one thing) and in rhythm. He was there at the beginning, pace-setting.

    And FWIW, whatever his personal beefs about not being acknowledged or hired, those guys---Gillespie; Parker, et. al---all had deep respect for him...
    you thinking of this?

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    you thinking of this?
    I wasn't, but it's a hell of a performance---and it would've been a rare event if in a solo performance Monk DIDN'T use that stride left hand.


    I'm going to have to review early chapters of Kelley's book. I seem to remember that Monk went to some rent parties where he played and some older stride masters heard and encouraged him. I wouldn't be surprised...

  17. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    I wasn't, but it's a hell of a performance---and it would've been a rare event if in a solo performance Monk DIDN'T use that stride left hand.


    I'm going to have to review early chapters of Kelley's book. I seem to remember that Monk went to some rent parties where he played and some older stride masters heard and encouraged him. I wouldn't be surprised...
    Wasn’t James P Johnson his mentor/ teacher (I mention this above, but not sure the source)?

  18. #67

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    Mary Lou Williams was his mentor and teacher.

  19. #68

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    According to Kelley’s book, the biggest early influence on Monk was a piano teacher he had called Alberta Simmons, who taught him stride piano in the style of Eubie Blake, James P. Johnson and Fats Waller.

    Prior to that he had piano lessons with a classical teacher and apparently became quite adept at playing Chopin, Rachmaninov, etc.

    Later he joined a touring church show as their pianist, and was influenced by black gospel music.

    When he returned to New York after the gospel tour, he began to frequent informal jam sessions at local houses at which pianists like Willie the Lion Smith, James P. Johnson and Art Tatum were present, and he would often play for them.

  20. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    Wasn’t James P Johnson his mentor/ teacher (I mention this above, but not sure the source)?
    From Kelley, (Chapter 5: 1937-1940) p. 54: (Billy Taylor, about a house party Clarence Profit took him to at James P. Johnson's home) '...There's some guys sitting around playing cards. He (Profit) says "Hey fellas! I have a piano player here!" They said "Sit down, kid, and play something". Now, I should have known. (He played China Boy). I got 16 bars in when one of these guys comes over and says "Hmmmmm, that's nice. Let me try a little of that?"....The guy has got a left hand that I didn't believe! he was just like Waller. Turned out everyone in the room was a piano player....

    Turned out that one of the guys was Monk. It was the first time I'd ever heard him. But get this!...The other guys were Willie 'The Lion' Smith, a guy named Gippy, and James P. Johnson! Willie...called Monk over to the piano bench....was kind of on his case. He said "Play your thing, man." And (Monk) sat down and played a standard....could have been Tea For Two. He was playing more like Art Tatum then. I think he responded to the older musicians who told him to do his own thing.

    Monk told Billy Taylor 'that Willie "The Lion" and those guys that had shown him respect had...empowered him...to do his own thing. That he could do it and that his own thing was worth doing. It doesn't sound like Tatum. It doesn't sound like "The Lion". It doesn't sound like anyone but Monk and this is what he wanted to do. He had the confidence. The way he does things is the way HE wanted to do them'...

  21. #70

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    An unpopular opinion, but after listening to the entire Monk catalog for years, I still enjoy his solo recordings on the Black Lion label released as the London Collection very, very much. They were his last sessions, and there are moments where he has to pause to remember things, but it is here and in his trio recordings that I think he is at his most real. That said, I love everything he ever did, especially things like his comping on tunes like Rhythm-a-Ning (there is one live version in particular that is spectacular). But listening to him bang out Trinkle Tinkle solo is such a joyful listening experience, and the same for his versions of standards like Nice Work If You Can Get It. He was a visionary, but also an old soul.