Monk's Music - Thelonious Monk and Jazz History in the Making

By Vacher, Peter | IAJRC Journal, March 2009 | Go to article overview

Monk's Music - Thelonious Monk and Jazz History in the Making


Vacher, Peter, IAJRC Journal


Monk's Music - Thelonious Monk And Jazz History In The Making by Gabriel Solis University of California Press, 239pp, paperback, 2008

Mr Solis is a member of that burgeoning group of music educators whose chosen specialty is jazz. He's an Assistant Professor of Music, based at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, a highly regarded institution which has also housed Professor Lawrence Gushee, one of the most diligent and rewarding of jazz researchers.

I take this study of Monk's enduring legacy to be Mr Solis's first book. It has all the hallmarks of a typical academic treatise (I suspect it may have started out as a doctoral thesis or some such) with many cited quotations, extensive footnotes and references, a very comprehensive bibliography, and a text illuminated by frequent notated musical examples. There are no photographic illustrations.

So, how does this addition to Monk-ian literature (a fast-growing sub-genre of jazz literature) stack up, I hear you ask? In what way does it add to our knowledge of this unique individual who spent the final decade of his life in reclusive silence, holed up in Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter's country residence, with wife Nellie and 300 cats for company? Hardly at all, for this is not a conventional biography nor does not purport to be, although the evaluation of Monk's own playing method is a valuable element of the book. …

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