Thelonious Monk

1917 - 1982

American

Biography

Thelonious Monk was an American jazz pianist and composer with a unique improvisational style who made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including "'Round Midnight," "Blue Monk," "Straight, No Chaser," "Ruby, My Dear," "In Walked Bud," and "Well, You Needn't."

His compositions and improvisations feature dissonances and angular melodic twists and are consistent with his unorthodox approach to the piano, which combined a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of switched key releases, silences, and hesitations. Monk was also noted for an idiosyncratic habit during performances: while other musicians continued playing, he would stop, stand up, and dance for a few moments before returning to the piano.

Monk is one of five jazz musicians to have been featured on the cover of Time magazine, joining Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, and Wynton Marsalis.

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