Tagged with "monk"
Thelious Monk Junior (1917 - 1982) Pianist and composer
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: thelious monk jr voices jazz musi word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Thelonious Monk is one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time and one of first creators of modern jazz.

Thelonious Monk is one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time and one of first creators of modern jazz and bebop. For much of his career, Monk played with small groups at Milton's Playhouse. Many of his compositions have become jazz standards, including "Well, You Needn't," "Blue Monk" and "Round Midnight." His spares and angular music had a levity and playfulness to it.

Musician. Thelonious Monk was born on October 10, 1917 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. When he was just four, his parents, Barbara and Thelonious, Sr., moved to New York City, where he would spend the next five decades of his life.

 

Monk began studying classical piano when he was eleven but had already shown some aptitude for the instrument. "I learned how to read before I took lessons," he later recalled. "You know, watching my sister practice her lessons over her shoulder." By the time Monk was thirteen, he had won the weekly amateur competition at the Apollo Theater so many times that the management banned him from re-entering the contest.

 

At age seventeen, Monk dropped out of the esteemed Stuyvesant High School to pursue his music career. He toured with the so-called "Texas Warhorse," an evangelist and faith healer, before assembling a quartet of his own. Although it was typical to play for a big band at this time, Monk preferred a more intimate work dynamic that would allow him to experiment with his sound.

 

In 1941, Monk began working at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, where he joined the house band and helped develop the school of jazz known as bebop. Alongside Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, he explored the fast, jarring, and often improvised styles that would later become synonymous with modern jazz.

 

Thelonious Monk's first known recording was made in 1944, when he worked as a member of Coleman Hawkins's quartet. Monk didn't record under his own name, however, until 1947, when he played as the leader of a sextet session for Blue Note.

 

Monk made a total of five Blue Note recordings between 1947 and 1952, including "Criss Cross" and "Evidence." These are generally regarded as the first works characteristic of Monk's unique jazz style, which embraced percussive playing, unusual repetitions and dissonant sounds. As Monk saw it, "The piano ain't got no wrong notes!" Though widespread recognition was still years away, Monk had already earned the regard of his peers as well as several important critics.

In 1947, Monk married Nellie Smith, his longtime sweetheart. They later had two children, whom they named after Monk's parents, Thelonious and Barbara. In 1952, Monk signed a contract with Prestige Records, which yielded pieces like "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and "Bags' Groove." The latter, which he recorded with Miles Davis in 1954, is sometimes said to be his finest piano solo ever.

Because Monk's work continued to be largely overlooked by jazz fans at large, Prestige sold his contract to Riverside Records in 1955. There, he attempted to make his first two recordings more widely accessible, but this effort was poorly received by critics.

Not content to pander ineffectively to a nonexistent audience, Monk turned a page with his 1956 album, Brilliant Corners, which is usually considered to be his first true masterpiece. The album's title track made a splash with its innovative, technically demanding, and extremely complex sound, which had to be edited together from many separate takes. With the release of two more Riverside masterworks, Thelonious Himself and Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane, Monk finally received the acclaim he deserved.

In 1957, the Thelonious Monk Quartet, which included John Coltrane, began performing regularly at the Five Spot in New York. Enjoying huge success, they went on to tour the United States and even make some appearances in Europe. By 1962, Monk was so popular that he was given a contract with Columbia Records, a decidedly more mainstream label than Riverside. In 1964, Monk became one of four jazz musicians ever to grace the cover of Time Magazine.

The years that followed included several overseas tours, but by the early 1970s, Monk was ready to retire from the limelight; save for his 1971 recordings at Black Lion Records and the occasional appearance at the Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall, Monk spent his final years living quietly in seclusion. After battling serious illness for several years, he passed away from a stroke in 1982. He has since been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry, and featured on a United States postage stamp.

As a pioneering performer who managed to slip almost invisibly through the jazz community during the first half of his career, Monk is exactly the type of figure who invites rumor and exaggeration. The image the public has been left with is that of a demanding, eccentric recluse with an inborn gift for piano. The real person was more complex. "People don't think of Thelonious as Mr. Mom," his son points out, recalling his father changing diapers, "but I clearly saw him do the Mr. Mom thing, big-time."

Whatever Thelonious was to the media, it's clear what his legacy will be to jazz music: that of a true originator. Monk probably said it best when he insisted that a "genius is one who is most like himself."

Source: Biography.com

John Coltrane a tenor saxophone player played with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk.
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: john coltrane trane dizzy gillespie thelonious monk voices jazz word life production feature blog

Merely mention the name John Coltrane and you’re likely to evoke a deeply emotional, often spiritual response from even the most casual jazz fan.

Born September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, North Carolina, John Coltrane was always surrounded by music. His father played several instruments sparking Coltrane’s study of E-flat horn and clarinet. While in high school, Coltrane’s musical influences shifted to the likes of Lester Young and Johnny Hodges prompting him to switch to alto saxophone. He continued his musical training in Philadelphia at Granoff Studios and the Ornstein School of Music. He was called to military service during WWII, where he performed in the U.S. Navy Band in Hawaii.

After the war, Coltrane began playing tenor saxophone with the Eddie "CleanHead" Vinson Band, and was later quoted as saying, "A wider area of listening opened up for me. There were many things that people like Hawk, and Ben and Tab Smith were doing in the ‘40’s that I didn’t understand, but that I felt emotionally." Prior to joining the Dizzy Gillespie band, Coltrane performed with Jimmy Heath where his passion for experimentation began to take shape. However, it was his work with the Miles Davis Quintet in 1958 that would lead to his own musical evolution. " Miles music gave me plenty of freedom," he once said. During that period, he became known for using the three-on-one chord approach, and what has been called the ‘sheets of sound,’ a method of playing multiple notes at one time.

By 1960 Coltrane had formed his own quartet which included pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, and bassist Jimmy Garrison. Eventually adding players like Eric Dolphy, and Pharoah Sanders. The John Coltrane Quartet created some of the most innovative and expressive music in Jazz history including the hit albums: "My Favorite Things," "Africa Brass," " Impressions," " Giant Steps," and his monumental work "A Love Supreme" which attests to the power, glory, love, and greatness of God. Coltrane felt we must all make a conscious effort to effect positive change in the world, and that his music was an instrument to create positive thought patterns in the minds of people.

In 1967, liver disease took Coltrane’s life leaving many to wonder what might have been. Yet decades after his departure his music can be heard in motion pictures, on television and radio. Recent film projects that have made references to Coltrane’s artistry in dialogue or musical compositions include, "Mr. Holland’s Opus", "The General’s Daughter", "Malcolm X", "Mo Better Blues", "Jerry McGuire", "White Night", "The Last Graduation", "Come Unto Thee", "Eyes On The Prize II" and "Four Little Girls". Also, popular television series such as "NYPD Blue", "The Cosby Show", "Day’s Of Our Lives", "Crime Stories" and "ER", have also relied on the beautiful melodies of this distinguished saxophonist.

In 1972, "A Love Supreme" was certified gold by the RIAA for exceeding 500,000 units in Japan. This jazz classic and the classic album "My Favorite Things" were certified gold in the United States in 2001.

In 1982, the RIAA posthumously awarded John Coltrane a Grammy Award of " Best Jazz Solo Performance" for the work on his album, "Bye Bye Blackbird". In 1997 he received the organizations highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award.

On June 18, 1993 Mrs. Alice Coltrane received an invitation to The White House from former President and Mrs. Clinton, in appreciation of John Coltrane’s historical appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival.

In 1995, John Coltrane was honored by the United States Postal Service with a commemorative postage stamp. Issued as part of the musicians and composers series, this collectors item remains in circulation.

In 1999, Universal Studios and its recording division MCA Records recognized John Coltrane’s influence on cinema by naming a street on the Universal Studios lot in his honor.

In 2001, The NEA and the RIAA released 360 songs of the Century . Among them was John Coltrane’s "My Favorite Things."
 

Source: Official Website

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