Thelonious Monk Offers Advice on Playing a Gig and How to Dress in Scribbled Notes
Transcribed by soprano sax player Steve Lacy in a spiral-bound notebook,Thelonious Monk created a primer of do’s and don’ts for club musicians. For the greenhorns, Monk presented a syllabus for Band Etiquette 101 titled “1. Monk’s Advice (1960).” For the rest of us, it’s a view into one of the greatest, quirkiest minds of American music.
- “Don’t play the piano part. I’m playing that. Don’t listen to me. I’m supposed to be accompanying you!”
- “Don’t play everything (or every time); let some things go by. Some music just imagined. What you don’t play can be more important than what you do.”
- “Just because you’re not a drummer doesn’t mean that you don’t have to keep time!”
But Monk also offered advice on how to dress, “Sharp as possible!” With these notes we all get a sneak peak into the method behind Monk’s music, and what types of rules and guidelines nurtured his gift.
As everyone who listens to Monk knows, he had his quirks, but this list of notes to self reveals just how much he thought about his work, and how he worked to become a better artist, and to push others to become better. It’s rare that we get that sort of glimpse into a genius mind, which makes this read all the more enjoyable.
Thelonious Monk was one of the greatest jazz pianists and composers, often considered one of the giants of not only American jazz, but American music as well.
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