a little something else

Monk may well be the man to finally straighten people out in the matter of modern informal music, besides having had a great deal to do with its present direction. His kind of playing isn't something that occurred to him whole - beyond its undoubted originality, it has the most tremendously expressive and personal feeling I can find in any musician playing now. It has cost Monk something to play as he does - not recognition so much, because he's always had that from the people he wanted to find it in; jobs and money, certainly, although his personality has had a little to do with that (he is best described as a dour pixie); and still more: I believe his style and approach cost him 50 per cent of his technique. He relies so much on absolute musical reflex that Horowitz's skill might be unequal to the job.

That isn't to say that the music is formless. Taken as a whole, it has a very satisfying feeling of solidity. And Monk has a beat like the ocean waves - no matter how sudden, spasmodic, or obscure his little inventions, he rocks irresistibly on.

What he has done, in part, is quite simple. He hasn't invented a new scheme of things, but he has, for years, too, looked with an unjaundiced eye at music and seen a little something else. He plays riffs that are older than Bunk Johnson - but they don't sound the same; his beat is familiar but he does something strange there, too - he can make a rhythm almost separate, so that what he does is inside or outside it. He may place for a space in nothing but smooth phrases and suddenly jump on a part and repeat it with an intensity beyond description. His left hand is not constant - it wanders shrewdly around, sometimes playing only a couple of notes, sometimes powerfully on the beat, usually increasing it in variety, and occasionally silent.

At any rate, Monk is really making use of all the unused space around jazz, and he makes you feel that there are plenty of unopened doors.

// Paul Bacon, página 18 da Record Changer de maio de 1948 (detalhe da capa lá em cima), escrevendo sobre o segundo disco da carreira de Thelonious Monk, 78rpm BN 543, então recém-lançado pela Blue Note, com "Well You Needn't" (em trio) de um lado e "'Round Midnight" (com quinteto) de outro.


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