Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of An American Original

Thelonious Monk, courtesy Philadelphia Jazz Project and Philly’s Free Library

Not every Earth Day party is touched by grass or comes complete with the wind in its willows. Some funkier affairs for Earth Day are safely put in the courtesy of your own home. Namely the Jazz Appreciation Month celebration between the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Jazz Project resulting in a virtual discussion of the epic biographical work, Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of An American Original written by Robin D.G. Kelley, on Thursday, April 22 at 7 pm. 

Any day is a good day to celebrate Monk. Hit it HERE to get in for free…

Now before you say, “A.D., The sun is shining and the weather is warm. I want to get water ice. Not listen to a talk about some old dead jazz guy…” Allow me to remind you of the fact that Thelonious Monk is one of modern music’s most adventurous pianists and composers. And that his life was one which was marked by acute mental illness. A health topic so near and dear to all of us.

Get your water ice by the gallon. Come home. Watch Monk, Kelley, and organizers of the event, Benjamin Remsen of the Free Library of Philadelphia and Homer Jackson of the Philadelphia Jazz Project lead readers and listeners through a most fascinating journey, virtually, from the Kingsessing Library’s inner sanctum.

Thelonious Monk

“This event was a Free Library event that we were invited to collaborate with them on, so, this was a nice opportunity to connect,” said Homer Jackson. “Besides, as you say, we could, should celebrate Monk every day.”

As for the book and his feelings about the beloved eccentric Monk, the always-active, ever-involved jazz activist Jackson let us in on his poetic insights and uptempo vibes regarding the man behind “Round Midnight”, “Epistrophy”, “Bemsha Swing” and so many jazz classics. 

“You know, going through the book again and thinking about the weird, uniqueness about Monk, it just started to blow my mind. He is the past, present and future all swirling at once. I remember when my daughter, who is 30 now, told me she took a jazz appreciation class in college.

She has heard the music at home, of course, but never took the time to pay attention to details. She liked Armstrong and Ellington. Thought Parker and Dizzy were fun. But she said something like, she felt like the floor slid out below her feet when listening to Monk. I think that is a perfect description.”

Homer continued, “Off Kilter. That uneasy feeling that is amazingly attractive. The rollercoaster. Venus Fly Trap. His impact on Trane. His impact on Bud Powell. His imapct on Amiri Baraka. His influence on the entire avant-garde. Growing up down the street from Hasaan Ibn Ali, these all touch me, as a person and as an artist in some strange third hand way. So, having a chance to talk about him is a kinda reflection too.”

Thelonious Monk

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