Thelonious Monk

Courtesy of the artist

Along with a label homecoming for legendary drummer-composer Joe Chambers.

Ashley Lederer / WBGO

In search of holiday inspiration? WBGO has you covered.

It’s never a bad time to talk about Thelonious Monk. His indomitable music and incorruptible example serve as a renewable resource, because there’s always something fresh to uncover, another brilliant corner to explore.

Deneka Peniston

Thelonious Monk, born on this day in 1917, has long been a lodestar for improvising musicians, and in particular those who followed in his footsteps as a pianist.

But we’ve also recently seen his legacy flourish in the hands of ambitious guitar players, including Bill Frisell, Steve Cardenas, Miles Okazaki — and now Pasquale Grasso, who has an EP titled Solo Monk releasing tomorrow on Sony Masterworks.

Hollis King

Pianist Monty Alexander says that the music he heard growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, had tastes and smells strong enough to inspire him today.

Willie Cole
Willie Cole for WBGO

Award-winning contemporary American Sculptor, conceptual and visual artist, painter and printer Willie Cole was born in Newark but his artwork is loved worldwide. 

Cole, who now lives in Mine Hill, New Jersey and part-time in Los Angeles, is excited about his latest project that will eventually end up in a Newark school.  He'll be using 16 and 8 ounce water bottles to create a 30-foot kid sculpture.  It's not the first time he used water bottles in an artistic way.

Desmond White

(And by "other gifts," we mean an irresistible groove from Avishai Cohen; a mysterious swirl by Ben LaMar Gay and JayVe Montgomery; and a choice morsel of Andy Summers playing Thelonious Monk.)

William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress

We thank our readers for following Deep Dive with Lewis Porter.

Sometimes new information comes to light after I’ve posted, and at other times I simply think of something I’ve left out. So periodically I’ll collect these stray findings in an update, this being the first.

Steve Mundinger / Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

Tom Oren, a 24-year-old pianist from Tel Aviv, Israel, has won the 2018 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition.

He was awarded first prize at a gala concert on Monday night, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Along with his prestigious honor, Oren will receive $25,000 in scholarship funds and a recording contract with the Concord Music Group.

Jim Marshall / Jim Marshall Photography LLC

Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie were both born a century ago, in 1917. In their honor, here’s a heap of information about “‘Round Midnight,” a bedrock jazz standard whose evolution reflects their mutual regard.

Dr. Lewis Porter
Bill May for WBGO News

WBGO's Nate Chinen chats with jazz historian, musician, author and University of Rutgers-Newark Professor Dr. Lewis Porter about the various versions of Round Midnight and the history behind the tune.

Dr. Porter's Deep Dive posts can be found at www.wbgo.org. 

Click above to hear the entire interview with Dr. Porter and Nate Chinen.

Erich Auerbach / Getty Images

Every holiday has its jazz soundtrack, though some yield more copious results than others.

Tom Marcello / Flickr

Ben Riley, a subtle and versatile jazz drummer best known for his affiliation with Thelonious Monk in the 1960s and Kenny Barron, one of Monk’s pianistic heirs, in all the years since, died on Saturday at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York. He was 84.

Greg Allen

Thelonious Monk changed the way musicians approach jazz. It's not a legacy to be viewed in a museum, but a living body of work for artists to challenge themselves today, finding new arrangements and expressions, surprising themselves at every Monk call and response.

Steve Mundinger / Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

Thelonious Monk, the incomparably influential jazz composer and pianist, would have turned 100 today, and across the country, a healthy range of commemorative tributes is already underway. But the flagship event that bears his name has quietly been put on hold: the next Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, which at one point had been scheduled for this week at the Kennedy Center in Washington, will not happen in 2017.

William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress via flickr.com

Take Five celebrates Monk at 100 with new tracks by Johnny O'Neal, Wadada Leo Smith, Barry Altschul and The 3Dom Factor, John McNeil & Mike Fahie, and Sam Newsome with Jean-Michel Pilc.

YouTube

It was a Thelonious Monk composition — the elegant and wistful ballad "'Round Midnight" — that first made Joey Alexander a topic of conversation.

Nobody understands bebop piano better than Barry Harris, who at 87 is one of the great elder statesmen of our music. He graced us with his wit, erudition and piano mastery in a recent visit to Morning Jazz.


Lawrence Sumulong / Jazz at Lincoln Center

Like any pianist and composer in the jazz idiom, John Beasley owes a substantial debt to Thelonious Monk. Unlike most, he chooses to express that influence in large-canvas terms.

Several years ago he formed the MONK’estra, a Los Angeles-based big band, in order to play Monk’s music with contemporary flair.

Courtesy of Arnaud Boubet / Private collection

Thelonious Monk’s soundtrack to Les liaisons dangereuses, the provocative French film directed by Roger Vadim, will be released as a double album this spring. Arriving in a year of centennial tribute to Monk, the genius pianist and jazz modernist, it registers as a fresh discovery: while this music was recorded in 1959, it has never been available outside the context of the film, which is out of print.