Hearing Monk

Gabriel Solis

in Monk's Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780520252004
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940963 | DOI:
Hearing Monk

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This chapter explores how an ethnographic engagement with jazz musicians can be useful in setting a course for analyzing Monk's music in the present, looking back at Monk and his music with jazz musicians of today to try to ascertain who he was in his own time and how his recordings resonate for contemporary musicians. This involves listening to musicians as listeners and fans of Monk's music. Five principal themes arise in the analysis as central to understanding Monk as a musician: Monk and time; the relationship of his music to other African American musical styles through the importance of riff-based melodic unity; the pairing of linear, developmental thinking with cyclical, repetitive practices in his improvisation; the idea that his music in toto represents its own “world”; and, finally, the place of humor in his approach to jazz.

Keywords: jazz; Thelonious Monk; African American music; ethnographic engagement; contemporary musicians

Chapter.  13219 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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