Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

by Robin DG Kelley
4.3 23

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Overview

Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin DG Kelley

With his trademark goatee, dark glasses, and hat, Thelonious Monk is an image of coolness. Jazz fans revere Monk for his groundbreaking compositions and piano playing from the 1950s and 1960s, but to a wider audience he stands for something much bigger: the idea of native genius; a quirky, absent-minded, unalloyed originality that is the perfect symbol of the undefinable essence of jazz. The man behind the mystique is now more interesting and edifying, thanks to extraordinary, unprecedented access to Monk's closest friends and family, his private papers, and hours of audiotapes of Monk himself. Monk's musical and cultural education blended together the key strands of African-American music traditions: from church hymns, to ecstatic stomping and call-and-response, to the blues. When he put it together with the Kansas City and New York dancehall music of swing, he reached a cultural apex unlike anyone before or after him. A husband and father, Monk moved in with an aristocratic Dutch hipster known as 'the Jazz Baroness,' a key, strange patron of modern jazz. He continued to compose subtle, deceptively simple-sounding classics, while descending into depression and erratic behaviour. A once-energetic, joking, handsome young man grew into a tortured artist, and the Monk mystique took hold. Now Kelly reveals that this talented musician was in fact a much more complex and interesting figure than his image would suggest. A fascinating biography, not just for Monk and jazz fans, but for those interested in the fragile spirit of human nature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781907532764
Publisher: Aurum Press, Limited
Publication date: 08/01/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 608
File size: 4 MB

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Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
keyboardmaniac More than 1 year ago
I've been reading biographies of great jazz artists over the last year. There were several biographies available regarding Monk, but none of them were compelling enough - based on my reading of various reviews - to purchase. I finally became aware of Mr. Kelly's book. This book will surely be recognized as the definitive Monk biography. I feel that I now have a more realistic view of this great pianist, composer, and performer.
LittleGiantOfTexas More than 1 year ago
I'm 63 and fell in love with Monk's music at 16. I devoured Robin D.G. Kelley's book every spare minute I had. I would have loved to have heard Monk in person, but reading Mr. Kelley's book was almost like being there. In the process of telling the story of Thelonious Monk's life, Mr. Kelley tells the story of jazz and the struggles of black jazz musicians. Mr. Kelley spent more than 10 years researching the book and had access to Thelonious' family, and the detail is amazing. The story is there, warts and all, and feels like an accurate portrait of a jazz genius. This is a must read for the serious jazz-aphobe or the serious Monk-aphobe. Those without interest in music could get a little lost in the musical terminoloty at times, but it will also interest those with an interest in black history. Mr. Kelley is a serious scholar and teaches history and American studies at UCLA, but the book is anything but dry! I thank Mr. Kelley for bringing to life my favorite musician in the entire world. As Monk used to say, "The piano ain't got no wrong notes!"
ThomasJ More than 1 year ago
Kelley makes it clear from the top, the hats he wore, dancing around the piano, not always showing up in time for a gig, and the 100 other little things that made Monk a true original, was not how he wants us to remember. Kelly stars at the very beginning, detailing how his roots began in the South and ended up in New York. The author tries to be very accurate about his clan throughout the whole book. The people in and out of the business who were there for Monk, were there up to the end. Record companies, most specifically Columbia tried to get as much "product" out as possible, Trios, big band, solo, whatever could push wax. Readers need patience when reading "Thelonious Monk." Stay calm, the 600 plus pages are worth the wait. Monk was not always really uderstood by critics and listners. Make up your own mind
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
<_>
Arthro92 More than 1 year ago
I've loved, Thelonious Monk's music and swagger for years. There were times when I listened to his music covered by someone else and wasn't aware that the song I was listening to was an original Monk tune. When I learned of his documentary, ''Straight, No Chaser'', I couldn't wait to watch and learn. Watching the documentary, just made me love and admire him even more. However, I was still a bit hungry for some knowledge concerning the Monk. This book gave me great insight into the life of a great man, who was born to be the jazz great he was. I only give this book a four star rating, because I agree with some earlier reviewers when they write there were times when it seemed as if the author was just writing things down to add pages to the book, for what ever reasons. All in all, it's a great book.
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Hey dave! ;)
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