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August KleinzahlerMusicians—particularly jazz musicians of Monk's period, and most especially Monk, taciturn and gnomic in utterance by nature—tend not, as writers do, to write hundreds of letters sharing with intimates what is going on in their hearts or heads. A biography of Monk, perforce, has to rely on the not always reliable, often conflicting, memories of others. Instinct is involved, surely as much as perspicacity, in sifting through the mass of observation and anecdote. The Monk family appears to have shared private material with Kelley that had hitherto been unavailable. This trust was not misplaced. There will be shapelier and more elegantly written biographies to come—Monk, the man and the music, is an endlessly fascinating subject—but I doubt there will be a biography anytime soon that is as textured, thorough and knowing as Kelley's. The "genius of modern music" has gotten the passionate, and compassionate, advocate he deserves.
—The New York Times