Tag: Thelonious Monk

Throwback: Happy 105th Birthday, Thelonious Monk!

JOVM’s William Ruben Helms celebrates the 105th anniversary of Thelonious Monk’s birth.

Throwback: Happy 96th Birthday, Roy Haynes!

Yesterday was the legendary Roy Haynes’ 96th birthday. Over the course of his 77 year career — yes, 77! — Haynes has played swing, bop, fusion and avant garde jazz with a who’s who of jazz, including Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Oliver Nelson and a long list of others. And unsurprisingly because of such a lengthy and productive career, Haynes is one of the most recorded drummers in jazz history.

I had the pleasure and honor of photographing and watching the imitable legend play on a SummerStage bill that featured Ron Carter and McCoy Tyner. At the time, I believe that Haynes was around 91 and even in his advanced age, he was full of energy, charming and incredibly spry: during his set, he got up from his drum kit to tap dance and sing. I hope to have that kind of energy and joy if I get to that age! He’s also still regularly playing and touring. And if it wasn’t for the COVID pandemic, Haynes would have been playing his annual Blue Note residency to celebrate his birthday.

Happy birthday, Mr. Haynes! May there be many, many, many more!

Throwback: Black History Month: Thelonious Monk

Today is February 24, 2021. It’s the 24th day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Thelonious Monk is arguably one of the most beloved and eccentric personalities in the history of jazz. He had a unique improvisational style centered around an unorthodox piano playing style — and was known for an idiosyncratic habit during shows: while the other musicians continued playing, Monk would stop what he was doing, stand up and start dancing before returning to play. On occasion, it would look as though he were simultaneously absentminded and possessed.

Among jazz composers, Monk is the second-most-recorded after some guy named Duke Ellington and was one of five jazz musicians to ever be featured on the cover of Time Magazine. Some of his compositions are among the most beloved, jazz standards — “Ruby, My Dear” is one of my favorite Monk tunes, ever.