Forty-eight years ago this month, pianist Thelonious Monk appeared at the Berliner Jazztage festival, which when translated means Berlin Jazz Days and now is known as JazzFest Berlin. On solo piano, Monk played four Duke Ellington songs—Satin Doll, Sophisticated Lady, Caravan and Solitude followed by his Crepuscule With Nellie. Then on Blues for Duke, Monk was joined on piano by Joe Turner, Hans Rettenbacher on bass and Stu Martin on drums. Interestingly, Turner recorded for MPS soon after this concert.
The concert was taped by German television. Camera close-ups give you an intimate look at Monk and his unusual fingering on the keyboard. If you're not a fan of Monk's music, you will be after you watch him on this video. Monk was a fascinating figure who created art on his own terms. Seeing Monk in action is often the best way to appreciate him.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.