Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Thelonius restraint

Here’s a spectacular article about Thelonius Monk, the idiosyncratic bebop pianist and composer of maybe the greatest jazz original of them all, “‘Round Midnight.”

What I really like about Carvell Wallace’s piece in Pitchfork is the attention paid not just to musical details but also the social environment Monk worked in. Let’s be frank: it was a racist world. And one way artists like Monk developed to cope with it was to troll, or trick, “the squares.” He wore funny hats and had lapel cabbage. He didn’t answer your questions straightforwardly. He messed with your head, verbally and musically. And Wallace traces the same instinct to the evolution of hip-hop.

We just watched the Netflix documentary about Nina Simone last night. Same kind of story.

I don’t know who Carvell Wallace is, but his writing sure made me want to binge on Thelonius Monk today!

11 comments on “Thelonius restraint

  1. pinklightsabre
    April 25, 2016

    “The Loneliest Monk,” according to Martha Quinne. But gosh, she was so wholesome!

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 25, 2016

      Ha! Forgot about that. I bet he was a little bit lonely, though …

      • pinklightsabre
        April 25, 2016

        Just added Brilliant Corners to my cooking playlist for the night, thanks for that.

      • Kevin Brennan
        April 25, 2016

        And he’s totally right about that hook, isn’t he? You can’t hum it!

  2. Audrey Driscoll
    April 25, 2016

    Great writing by Carvell Wallace. Thanks for posting this!

  3. cincinnatibabyhead
    February 14, 2018

    A Monk binge is a good thing. Here’s a guy I tune into on a regular basis. He did a cool story on Thelonius. You might dig it. I’ll attach the link.


    • Kevin Brennan
      February 15, 2018

      Thanks for that link — great story there. I just wish I’d have had a chance to see Monk play, though I have been able to catch a few of the greats. Still listen to my Monk/Coltrane on a regular basis …

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        February 15, 2018

        Both Monk/Coltrane are staple around CB’s pad. I caught Sonny Rollins a few years back, that was cool.

      • Kevin Brennan
        February 15, 2018

        I saw Sonny too, back in the ’90s. Very cool indeed. Ornette Coleman, on the other hand, found numerous ways to blow my frickin’ mind!

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        February 15, 2018

        Now Ornette would have been worth the time. Neil over at yeahantherblogger just caught Charles Lloyd a while back with Bill Frisell.

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This entry was posted on April 25, 2016 by in Music and tagged , , .
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