Thelonious Monk

Mostly raised in New York, Thelonious Monk taught himself piano before he was six. In the early 1940s he landed a job as house pianist at Minton's Playhouse, a Manhattan night club where he worked with many of the leading jazz musicians of the day. Collaborations with brilliant mavericks like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker inspired him to evolve the fast-tempo improvisational style that came to be termed "be-bop" and his approach to jazz grew increasingly daring. Monk was also noted for his strange fashion sense and idiosyncratic stage shows but, during the 1940s and 1950s he made a series of classic records for the Blue Note label. He also collaborated with Sonny Rollins and Art Blakey and further pioneered the new jazz in an explosive, influential partnership with Miles Davis. In 1956 Monk recorded what many regard as his masterpiece - the Brilliant Corners album - and subsequently led his own quartet featuring John Coltrane on tenor sax. He recorded prolifically for Columbia through the 1960s, but largely dropped out in the 1970s, reputedly suffering from mental illness. Monk died of a stroke in 1982.

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Stations Featuring Thelonious Monk

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