American Composer – 1993

Thelonious Monk

A fine one-hour documentary on the unique pianist-composer

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Thelonious Monk (1917-82) seemed difficult to figure out when he first began to make his mark on the music scene in the 1940s; many thought that there was little logic to his piano playing, composing, or his unusual personality.

Over time, the jazz world gradually caught up with Monk and he was finally recognized as a musical genius.

In this fine documentary from 1993, such associates as Randy Weston, Orrin Keepnews, Barry Harris, Billy Taylor, Ben Riley, T.S. Monk, and Monk’s sister Marion White tell stories that add to one’s understanding of Thelonious Monk’s music and life.

There are many short excerpts of his playing, but it is the storytelling and photos that are most significant during the well-conceived biography.

-Scott Yanow


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