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Thelonious Monk Quartet

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Rocky Mount NC, United States (1917 – 1982)

Thelonious Sphere Monk (Rocky Mount, North Carolina 10th October 1917 - Hartsdale, New York 17th February 1982) was a pianist and composer.

Widely considered as one of the most important musicians in jazz — he is one of only five jazz musicians to be featured on the cover of Time — Monk had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including “Epistrophy,” “‘Round Midnight,” “Blue Monk,” “Straight No Chaser” and “Well, You Needn’t.”

He could play be-bop but commented that be-bop “sounds like dixieland to me.” His compositions and improvisations are full of dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists, and are impossible to separate from Monk’s unorthodox approach to the piano, which combined a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of silences and hesitations; a style nicknamed “Melodious Thunk” by his wife Nellie.

Early life
Monk was born 10th October 1917 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the son of Thelonious and Barbara Monk, two years after his sister Marian. A brother, Thomas, was born a couple of years later. In 1922, the family moved to 243 West 63rd Street, in Manhattan. Monk started playing the piano at the age of six. Although he had some formal training and eavesdropped on his sister’s piano lessons, he was essentially self-taught. Monk attended Stuyvesant High School, but did not graduate. He briefly toured with an evangelist in his teens, playing the church organ, and in his late teens he began to find work playing jazz.

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