Thelonious Sphere Monk (born October 10, 1917 in Rocky Mount , North Carolina , † February 17, 1982 in Weehawken , New Jersey ) was an American African-American jazz musician who became known as a pianist and composer .
Along with Charlie Parker , Dizzy Gillespie , Charlie Christian and Kenny Clarke, he was one of the co-founders of the bebop . With his idiosyncratic piano style and his distinctive compositions , Monk is considered one of the great individualists and important innovators of modern jazz .
Childhood and youth
As a child, Thelonious Monk moved with his family in the early 1920s to San Juan Hill , New York 's southwestern Harlem district , which is largely inhabited by Afro-Americans and which was then demolished in the 1950s. However, the father, Thelonious Monk Sr., left the family a few years later. The responsibility for the upbringing and livelihood of Thelonious and his two siblings lay solely with his mother Barbara, who worked as an employee for the city administration. Monk was supported in his musical inclinations by his mother and received piano lessons as a child . By the age of thirteen he had won a piano competition at the Harlem Apollo Theater so many times that he was excluded from further participation.
Beginnings as a musician
The city of New York developed into one of the great jazz metropolises in Monk's youth . The Harlem district in particular, with its many clubs, became a focus of this development. Monk grew up in a musically very lively environment and heard many jazz musicians "live". Duke Ellington , Fats Waller , Earl Hines and Stride pianist James P. Johnson , who lived in the neighborhood of the Monk family, are considered early influences .
Like many musicians at the time, Monk gained his first experience as a pianist at " house rent parties ". These were widespread in neighborhoods inhabited by blacks. Tenants who rent their (Rent) could not afford, invited the people of their neighborhood one, made for musical entertainment and then left "to go around hat". They used this to pay the musicians and the rent. In addition, Monk also accompanied his mother's singing on the organ in the church . A performance by the piano virtuoso Art Tatum in New York in 1932 left a deep impression on the fifteen-year-old Monk.
Monk left high school at seventeen. He then went on tour as a pianist with a traveling preacher for two years. He also performed in Kansas City , which was then a vibrant jazz city. She is u. a. the home of the Count Basie Band and pianist Mary Lou Williams . She heard Monk play, recognized his talent and encouraged him in his musical ambitions. According to her, Monk already had a rhythmically and harmonically very idiosyncratic style. Mary Lou Williams later describes the impression that Monk's music made on her and other musicians as follows: “We called it 'scary music' back then and reserved it almost exclusively for the early hours of the morning when we were musicians among ourselves. Why 'scary music'? Because the gruesome chords reminded us of music that appeared in 'Frankenstein' and similar horror films. "
Back in New York City, Monk made a few years doing odd jobs as a pianist. In the early 1940s he became the resident pianist at the Harlem club Minton's Playhouse , the meeting point of a loose association of young musicians who were looking for new musical ways beyond the swing mainstream at jam sessions . In addition to Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Christian and Kenny Clarke, Monk was one of the group of musicians who would later be considered the nucleus of a new style - bebop - and thus modern jazz .
While Parker and Gillespie later became the protagonists of bebop, Monk was initially denied this recognition. This was due on the one hand to Monk's individualistic style of play, which many found difficult to understand, and on the other hand to his notorious unreliability, which made regular rehearsals with him hardly possible even with a generous view of punctuality. Although he was hired by Dizzy Gillespie as a pianist for his big band in 1946 , he was fired because he repeatedly appeared late or not at all for rehearsals or performances.
The tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins was one of the few band leaders who hired Monk as a pianist at this time. Hawkins, a veteran of the traditional swing style, was heavily criticized for this, as the rhythmically and harmonically unconventional playing Monks met with abrupt rejection from the audience. Despite this resistance, Hawkins kept the pianist in his quartet and made his first studio recordings with Monk in 1944.
Since Monk was still living with his mother, who also provided for his livelihood, he did not have to make artistic concessions due to economic constraints or adapt his stubborn rhythm of life to the habits of his fellow human beings. Instead, he was free to devote himself exclusively to his musical passion and to realize his compositional ideas.
At this time Monk also held a kind of "house seminar" for musician friends. The young Miles Davis , Sonny Rollins , Bud Powell and others went in and out of the Monk family's apartment and had Thelonious explain his compositions to them on the piano. He meticulously made sure that his often very complicated pieces are played correctly. Miles Davis, who a decade later would see his breakthrough with the general public with Monk's composition 'Round Midnight , said later that these lessons were very important to his musical development.
The Blue Note years 1947–1952
It was not until 1947, at the age of 30, that Monk took up his first record as a band leader for the up-and-coming music label Blue Note Records through the mediation of the saxophonist and talent scout Ike Quebec , later published under the title Genius Of Modern Music . His partners during the following years were among others. a. the vibraphonist Milt Jackson and drummer Art Blakey and Max Roach .
In the same year he married Nellie Smith (1921-2002), a girl from the neighborhood. The marriage produced two children, Thelonious and Barbara (1953-1984).
By this time Monk had already composed many of his pieces that would only gain recognition years or decades later. These include his most famous compositions Well, You Needn't , 'Round Midnight and Straight, No Chaser . His individualistic piano style with the percussive touch that is typical for him was already fully developed. His artistic development was largely complete: In the course of his further career, his music did not undergo any major stylistic changes or breaks. Many of the recordings published on Blue Note are exemplary interpretations of his compositions and are now considered classics.
However, Monk's first recordings under his own name only sold slowly. His idiosyncratic music met with incomprehension from the audience. It also remained controversial among fellow musicians and music critics. Often he was even accused of having a lack of technical ability.
An incident at the end of 1951 also severely hampered Monk's career in the following years: drugs were found in a car parked by Monk during a police check. Since he did not want to testify against the real drug owner - his friend Bud Powell - he was sentenced to 60 days in prison. Much more serious, however, was a long-term withdrawal of the “Cabaret Card”, which was then required for engagements in night clubs in New York. As a result, Monk could not get a club engagement in his hometown for years.
The prestige years 1952–1954
The Prestige label made Monk an offer to record in 1952. Since his previous records had only sold poorly, Blue Note Records let him go. The clearly out of tune piano that can be heard on some of his Prestige recordings either suggests a certain carelessness in production or Monk used it consciously. But even during this period, Monk made some remarkable recordings. His albums with Sonny Rollins ( Thelonious Monk / Sonny Rollins ) and the recordings from Christmas Eve 1954 with Miles Davis as leader, Milt Jackson , Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke are worthy of mention : These are considered by many connoisseurs to be a great moment in jazz.
The Riverside years 1955–1961
The jazz producer and Monk fan Orrin Keepnews founded the Riverside label in 1953 . For only $ 108 he bought Monk out of his contract with Prestige in 1954. But he was initially reluctant to publish recordings of Monk's own compositions. With the intention of gradually introducing the audience to Monk's eccentric music, two LPs, Plays the Music of Duke Ellington and The Unique Thelonious Monk , with standards or interpretations of pieces by Duke Ellington were released in 1956 , which were at least modestly respected by audiences and critics scored.
The year 1957 represented a turning point in Monk's career. On the one hand, at the instigation of the influential Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter , he regained his “Cabaret Card” (permission to perform in New York), which he had lost in 1951. This former diplomatic wife from the House of Rothschild looked after jazz musicians in the manner of a patroness. This enabled Monk to successfully work for several months in New York's Five Spot Café with tenor saxophonist John Coltrane ( Live at the Five Spot: Discovery! ).
On the other hand, the third album Brilliant Corners , published on Riverside, became a milestone in Monk's discography: Accompanied by the tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins , the alto saxophonist Ernie Henry , the bassist Oscar Pettiford and the drummer Max Roach , a carefully conceived and produced album was created on which Monk's music fully developed. Sonny Rollins played a large part in this. As a former visitor to Monk's “seminars”, he was very familiar with his music and knew how to play it accordingly. The highlights were the tricky new composition Brilliant Corners and the extended blues with the onomatopoeic title Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are . This title referred to the Bolivar Hotel in New York , where the Baroness de Koenigswarter resided in a suite. As an additional thank you for your support, Monk named one of his most beautiful ballads, in which he played celesta with his right hand and piano with his left, pannonica . With this album, Monk finally achieved a breakthrough with the audience. In the fall of this year, Monk, his former mentor Coleman Hawkins and Coltrane met again, published on the Riverside LP Monk's Music .
In the further course of the 1950s Monk made numerous important records. These included recordings with musicians such as John Coltrane ( Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane , published 1961), with Gerry Mulligan ( Mulligan Meets Monk ) and solo recordings ( Thelonious Alone in San Francisco , 1959). Successful tours through the USA and Europe followed. In 1958 Monk was named best pianist for the first time in the Down Beat Critics Poll. In February 1959 there was a concert in the renowned New York Town Hall , at which Monk performed his music in the orchestral arrangements of the Arranger Hall Overton with a tentet ( The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall ).
In 1960 the tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse Monks became a permanent partner in his quartet. Rouse was not a saxophonist in the format of a John Coltrane or a Sonny Rollins, but his playing style fits in perfectly with Monk's world of sound. This connection would last until the late 1960s.
With a contract with the Columbia record label , which belonged to CBS and for which other jazz greats such as Miles Davis or Dave Brubeck already worked, Monk finally became an internationally celebrated jazz star in 1962. The first records recorded for Columbia, Monk's Dream (1962) and Criss-Cross (1963), showed the Thelonious Monk Quartet with Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone, bassist John Ore and drummer Frankie Dunlop in a mature, perfectly coordinated form are among his best recordings. At the end of 1963 there was a second successful performance of his music in a big band ( Big Band and Quartet in Concert ) in New York's Lincoln Center . His rehearsals with arranger Hall Overton were captured by photographer W. Eugene Smith in image and sound documents that were published in 2009 in the Jazz Loft Project . Monk has now toured Europe and even Japan ( Monk in Tokyo ). The Time magazine showed him in February 1964 on the front page.
Monk's compositional activity declined more and more during this time. Recordings of new compositions became increasingly rare. Some of his records for Columbia did not contain a single new track. Apart from a few improvisations, his last composition was from 1967. During this time - unlike in the 1950s - he only rarely played with musicians outside of his permanent quartet and thus received fewer outside stimuli. Monk's once unconventional and exciting music gradually solidified into a predictable formulaic nature.
Falling silent in the 1970s
By the late 1960s, Monk's records were getting mediocre reviews in the press, and sales also fell. For commercial reasons, Columbia urged him to record an album with orchestral accompaniment in 1968, Monk's Blues (1969). The very smooth arrangements by Oliver Nelson, however, did not do Monk's music justice in any way. He declined the suggestion to record a record with Beatles compositions. Then Columbia ended the collaboration with Monk. His quartet gradually dissolved in the following years. After that he only made occasional recordings for smaller labels with changing companions. But even during this time he remained true to his style and played at a high level.
After 1970, Monk apparently disappeared from the stage for health reasons. The already introverted musician withdrew more and more. He showed signs of depression and gradually stopped playing the piano. In the last years of his life he stopped touching his instrument and fell into apathy . His last recording is from 1971 ( Something in Blue ), his last public appearance was in 1976.
The man Thelonious Monk
Monk is described by contemporaries as an introverted eccentric . Outwardly, he stood out for his gigantic figure, his preference for unusual headgear and sunglasses as well as his goatee. In doing so, he shaped the image of the hipster of the 1940s and 1950s alongside Dizzy Gillespie .
In public, Monk was extremely taciturn and only followed his own rhythm of life, which, among other things, could express itself in such a way that he slept whenever and wherever he liked. Social conventions such as B. Punctuality had only limited validity for him. His unreliability early in his career is legendary. He was often disinterested in his fellow human beings. Even when it comes to the music of other musicians, he was sometimes ignorant or even disparaging about it. Although Monk was a loving husband and father, he was unreliable in his private life and unable to take responsibility for his family. When his wife Nellie had to quit her job due to her pregnancy, no financial support was expected from Monk. The expectant family had to move back into Monk's mother's now completely overcrowded apartment. During this difficult time, Monk was gone for days. Even when his son was finally born on December 27, 1949, the musician could not be found.
Like many musicians of his generation, Thelonious Monk took drugs. In the black ghettos of the 1930s, drugs were part of everyday life, and Monk grew up in such an environment: In the early 1930s, the San Juan Hill district became a major hub for heroin. Possibly predisposed by his childhood, Monk looked for distraction in the intoxication of hard drugs in problematic phases at work and in his family. With heroin, for example, he numbed his fears about the future caused by the birth of his son and the new responsibility as a family man. Research has also shown an interaction between Monk's mental disorder and his drug use. The fact that the pianist was a heavy drinker is probably a side effect of his manic depression, which in turn was exacerbated by the high alcohol consumption. The same goes for Monk's favorite drug amphetamines (speed), which ingestion can increase the symptoms of the disease. So perhaps Monk's restlessness, insomnia, and insecurity can be attributed to part of the amphetamine combination and bipolar disorder .
His relatives described Monk, who was so silent and solitary in public, as a communicative and sociable person in his familiar surroundings. He enjoyed playing cards and was considered an excellent chess and table tennis player. Thelonious Monk not only led an intact family life for decades. He also had a lifelong close friendship with Bud Powell, Coleman Hawkins and the Baroness de Koenigswarter . He was also a fine businessman who never sold below value.
For most of his life, Monk lived in his childhood apartment and was reluctant to leave New York. As persistent and sovereign as he was in his music, so insecure, even helpless, he was often outside of his familiar surroundings. After he was picked up by the police at Boston Airport in 1959 and placed under psychiatric observation for three days because of his confused behavior, Monk was usually accompanied on trips by his wife Nellie, who often stood by him in his rare interviews. His son Thelonious Jr. reports that Monk went through days of deep depression or euphoria , followed by extreme states of exhaustion. He was hospitalized several times for this by his family, but this was not made public.
Thelonious Monk's music was strongly influenced by his introverted, individualistic personality. As idiosyncratic as Monk stuck to his own rhythm of life and his often eccentric habits, his music was also idiosyncratic. His wife Nellie reported that Monk was able to withdraw himself almost completely from his surroundings and that he was exclusively concerned with his music throughout his life.
Film recordings of Monk playing the piano show how the pianist performs dancing movements with his legs. During the solos of his band members, Monk loved to pause with the piano accompaniment and apparently completely absorbed, to dance on stage almost as if in a trance . In this "monk" dance he followed the peculiar rhythm and harmony of his music. On the face of it, this often appears sluggish and clumsy. In fact, Monk had a very individual sense of time, movement and rhythm, which often made his behavior appear strange to outsiders. His strange-looking habits, however, corresponded to his musical language in a very special way, so that much of his eccentric behavior on closer inspection reveals parallels to his music and becomes understandable.
Significantly, many compositions by the introverted pianist refer directly to relatives, close friends or even to the composer himself in the title. Little Rootie Tootie refers to the nickname of his son Thelonious Jr., Boo Boo's Birthday to that of his daughter Barbara. Crepuscule With Nellie is dedicated to his wife, Pannonica to Baroness de Koenigswarter. Thelonious , Blue Monk or Monk's Mood are just three of the pieces that have the composer's name in the title.
Monk was nurtured and cared for by women in his immediate vicinity throughout his life: initially by his mother, later by his wife Nellie, who also ensured the family's livelihood in economically difficult times for Monk, and finally by the Baroness de Koenigswarter, in whose mansion in New Jersey he retired in 1973. There he and his wife Nellie spent almost completely withdrawn his old age. During this time, his psychological state deteriorated. He died in 1982 after a stroke .
His son Thelonious Monk junior followed his father as a musician, embarked on a career as a professional drummer and founded the “Thelonious Monk Institute for Jazz”. Its aim is to promote musically gifted young people. It awards the renowned Thelonious Monk Award to outstanding talent every year.
The music of Thelonious Monks
Monk is considered to be the co-founder and leading musician of bebop. He occupies an outsider position within this genre: on the one hand because of his idiosyncratic compositions, on the other hand because of his no less individual style of improvisation . Monk develops a very independent musical aesthetic that arises around the same time as the bebop and has an effect on it, but is essentially independent of it. When asked who influenced him musically the most, Monk once replied: "Well, myself of course."
In a way that is atypical for bebop, Monk's compositions are not mere new harmonizations of known standards , but mostly completely new themes. Some of these are highly complex and contain unusual harmony sequences - such as Round Midnight (see example), but others are also strikingly simple, for example the piece Thelonious , of all things , which is based on a single note.
Monk had a preference for particularly short, concise topics. They are often based on the 12-bar blues scheme or the 32-bar standard form of popular songs , but he liked to alienate symmetrical 8-, 16- or 32-bar form parts by adding, inserting, or adding odd bars that seem completely illogical and surprisingly brought the melody forward by half a beat. Topics like I mean you or Straight no chaser are based on such rhythmic shifts and irregularities. These peculiarities give Monk's pieces a bulky and irritating, but precisely because of this, also an attractive character. They are easy to recognize as his works by their individual design language.
As a pianist, Monk rarely improvised like typical bebop soloists in rapid, but rather rather moderate tempos . It was not for him to prove his virtuosity, but to uncover the hidden structures of a topic and take the listener with him. He constantly varied the melodies and harmonies of the compositional models by abstracting, stretching or shortening motifs, phrases and chords. His edgy, bizarre improvisations were invented spontaneously, but did not form a detached and freely associated line, but always related to the underlying theme.
At that time Monk used very unusual chords , intervals and scales , such as the excessive triad , the whole tone scale , the fourth raised to the tritone (the "bebop" interval) and small seconds that were perceived as particularly dissonant . An example is the piano intro from the composition Brilliant Corners .
He combined these elements with each other in a bizarre way and distributed his chords over the entire keyboard. He used them both as harmonious twists and as his own "colors".
In terms of rhythm, Monk set unexpected, but all the more effective accents in his typical percussive style. He used them sparingly, but always in places where they had the greatest possible expressiveness. He played with pauses and counter-rhythms that contrast the ongoing swing . By alienating the form and creating new, large-scale thematic references, he created extraordinary moments of tension and opened new horizons. The listener can witness how Monk comments on the piece in an improvising way, thinks it through and reinvents it completely.
Monk's style of composition and improvisation are inextricably linked. The critic Whitney Balliett sums up this correlation: "His improvisations are liquefied compositions, his compositions are frozen improvisations."
In modern jazz, Monk goes to the limit of dissolving every tonality, phrasing and rhythm. That is why he was exposed to the lack of understanding of the public and critics for a long time. In the bebop era, it was therefore often violently rejected and hostile. His critics attributed his way of creating tension to a lack of technical skills and a lack of swing feeling. Monk's music, however, gained an inner coherence and coherence through its consistently bizarre eccentricity, which is rarely found in jazz. His very personal style of improvisation therefore finds few imitators.
Monk explored the compositional and improvisational possibilities of the modern bebop idiom: he ironized what was supposed to be known, parodied clichés , undermined the listener's expectations and created new, unexpected references. But he never gave up the tradition, but stayed within the functional, blues-soaked jazz harmony and conventional song forms. These given structures are always recognizable as the basis of his playing style and are emphasized precisely by their alienation. A special attraction of his music is therefore the always noticeable tension between the traditional musical forms and their individualistic transformation.
Influence on other musicians
Due to its belated recognition, Monk's influence was not felt until around 1955. He opened up new perspectives for jazz in the 1950s: his experimental style anticipated much of what was later common and broadly developed in free jazz in the 1960s . Imbued with his cynical humor, Monk heard a lot for the first time that equally brilliant jazz avant-gardists later developed. Monk influenced numerous jazz musicians of the 1960s such as John Coltrane , Ornette Coleman , Sonny Rollins and Eric Dolphy .
However, he himself was not ready to go along with the radical upheavals, but was rather hostile to the free jazz of the 1960s. He accused the young avant-garde of simply playing "a bunch of notes" one after the other, incoherently and illogically. He even accuses the free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman of destroying jazz with his new musical concepts. This shows that the composer and structuralist Monk remained dependent on the traditional form in order to be able to speak his individual musical language.
Monk composed only exactly 71 themes in the course of his life ( Duke Ellington, for example, composed around 2000). Nevertheless, he is considered one of the few great jazz composers. Many of his pieces became jazz classics (so-called " standards ") because of their ingenious, idiosyncratic, often bizarre formal language . They have taken an absolutely outstanding position in what is called modern jazz and are considered prime examples of this musical genre, which no major jazz musician and jazz pianist can ignore today.
Since Monk's death, his music has experienced a real renaissance that continues to this day. Many well-known musicians are still intensively involved with his work and record his compositions. These include Anthony Braxton , Misha Mengelberg and Chick Corea , among others . The pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach performs Monk's oeuvre in a concert program with a group of young musicians and recorded it in full in 2004. Soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy , who himself was a brief member of Monk's band in the 1960s and was heard on the Columbia recording in 1964, even played only Monk compositions for a few years of his career.
However, Monk's influence extends far beyond jazz. In 1984 the double album That's The Way I Feel Now , produced by Hal Willner , was released , on which both jazz and pop musicians Monk pay their respects. Among them are Gil Evans , Dr. John , Donald Fagen and John Zorn . The Kronos Quartet has also taken up a chamber music homage to Monk.
In April 2006, Thelonious Monk was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his work .
A prestigious junior competition for jazz musicians ( Thelonious Monk Competition ) is named after him.
- 52nd Street Theme
- Ask me now
- Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are
- Bemsha swing
- Blue Monk
- Bright Mississippi
- Brilliant Corners
- Crepuscule With Nellie
- Eronel (controversial, more like Idrees Sulieman & Sadik Hakim )
- Hoe sack
- I mean you
- In walked bud
- Let's call this
- Light blue
- Little Rootie Tootie
- Monk's Dream
- Monk's Mood
- Off minor
- Played Twice
- 'Round Midnight
- Ruby, My Dear
- Straight, no chaser
- We see
- Well you needn't
Thelonious Monks released more than 50 recordings under his own name or that of other leaders during his lifetime. Since his death, numerous other previously unpublished recordings or compilations have been added to his discography. In 2005, a previously unknown live recording of Monks with John Coltrane was released. A complete list at this point is neither useful nor possible. Instead, reference is made here to some particularly noteworthy recordings.
- Genius Of Modern Music Vol. 1 (1947-48, Blue Note)
- Genius Of Modern Music Vol. 2 (1952, Blue Note)
- 1954 - Miles Davis: Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants (ed. 1956, Prestige)
- 1956 - Brilliant Corners (Riverside)
- 1957 - Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall (Blue Note, released 2005)
- 1957 - Monk's Music (Riverside)
- 1957 - Thelonious Alone in San Francisco (Riverside)
- 1959 - The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall (Riverside)
- 1959 - Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 (Sam / Saga, published 2017)
- 1963 - Criss Cross (Columbia)
- 1964 - Live at the It Club (Sony, released 1998)
- 1964 - Big Band and Quartet in Concert (Columbia)
- 1965 - Monk in Paris: Live at the Olympia (Thelonious, ed. 2003)
- 1968 - Underground (rec. 1967/68, Columbia)
- 1971 - Something in Blue (Black Lion)
- The Complete Riverside Recordings (1986) - (Riverside Records)
- The Best Of Thelonious Monk. The Blue Note Years (1947–1952, Blue Note, published 1991)
- Thelonious Monk 85th Birthday Celebration (1952–1961, ZYX Music, published 2002)
- The Columbia Years: '62 -'68 (1962–1968, Sony, published 2001)
- The Complete Black Lion and Vogue Recordings of Thelonious Monk - (1954 & 1971) - ( Mosaic 1985) - 4 LPs with Al McKibbon , Art Blakey
There are numerous records on which other musicians only play compositions by Thelonious Monk, or on which these are a focus. This list can therefore only show a small selection.
- Steve Lacy: Reflections (1958, New Jazz / OJC)
- Steve Khan : Evidence (1980, Novus)
- Sphere: Four In One (1982, Elektra )
- Roswell Rudd / Misha Mengelberg : Regeneration (1982, Soul Note)
- Arthur Blythe : Light Blue (1983, Columbia)
- Various: That's The Way I Feel Now (1984, A&M)
- Kronos Quartet : Monk Suite (1985, Nonesuch)
- Steve Lacy: Only Monk (1985, Soul Note)
- Anthony Braxton : Six Monk's Compositions (1987, Black Saint)
- Paul Motian : Monk In Motian (1988, jmt)
- Carmen McRae : Carmen Sings Monk (1988, Novus)
- Steve Lacy: More Monk (1989, Soul Note)
- Bebop & Beyond: Plays Thelonious Monk (1990, Blue Moon)
- TJ Kirk : If Four Was One (1996, Warner Bros.)
- Esbjörn Svensson Trio : Plays Monk (1996, ACT)
- Alexander von Schlippenbach: Plays Monk (1997, enja)
- TS Monk: Monk On Monk (1997, N2K)
- Various: Blue Monk: Blue Note Plays Monk's Music (1999, Blue Note)
- Wynton Marsalis : Standard Time, Vol. 4: Marsalis Plays Monk (1999, Columbia)
- Alexander von Schlippenbach: Monk's Casino (The Complete Works, 2005, intact)
Films, DVDs, audio books
- Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (documentary by Charlotte Zwerin, 1989)
- Marcus A. Woelfle: The Thelonious Monk Story , read by Rufus Beck (audio book, 2 CDs, 2005, ZYX Music)
- Robin DG Kelley: Thelonious Monk. The Life and Times of an American Original. Free Press New York / London / Toronto u. a. 2009, ISBN 978-0-684-83190-9 .
- Thomas Fitterling: Thelonious Monk. His life, his music, his records . Oreos, Waakirchen 1987, ISBN 3-923657-14-5 .
- Thomas Fitterling: Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music . Berkeley Hills Books, Berkeley 1997, ISBN 0-9653774-1-5 .
- Leslie Gourse : Straight, No Chaser: The Life and Genius of Thelonious Monk. Schirmer Books, 1998, ISBN 0-8256-7229-5 .
- Jacques Ponzio, Francois Postif: “blue monk” - prophet the modern in jazz . Hannibal, St. Andrä-WIERT 1997, ISBN 3-85445-142-3 .
- Chris Sheridan: Brilliant Corners: A Bio-Discography of Thelonious Monk , Westport and London: Greenwood Press, 2001
- Arthur Taylor: Notes and Tones. Musician-to-Musician interviews . Da Capo Press, New York 1993, ISBN 0-306-80526-X . (extensive interviews with 30 jazz musicians, including Monk)
- Marcus A. Woelfle: Thelonious Monk 85th Birthday Celebration. Supplement to the CD box. ZYX Music, 2002.
- Misterioso. Jazz legend Thelonious Monk . Special issue from du Swiss monthly. TA-Media Verlag, Zurich March 1994, .
- Rob van der Bliek (Ed.): The Thelonious Monk Reader. Oxford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-19-512166-X .
- Laurent de Wilde : Monk . Translated by Jonathan Dickinson. Marlowe Press, New York 1997, ISBN 1-56924-740-4 . (English; French original 1996)
- Jürgen Arndt: Thelonious Monk and Free Jazz. (= Contributions to jazz research. ). Habilitation thesis. Academic Printing and Publishing Company, Graz 2002, ISBN 3-201-01794-9 .
- Thelonious Monk in the Internet Movie Database (English)
- Literature by and about Thelonious Monk in the catalog of the German National Library
- The Official Thelonious Sphere Monk Website (Monkzone)
- Thelonious Monk - His life and his music
- Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz
- Detailed discography by Thelonious Monk
- Sessionography by Robin Kelley on his Monk biography website
- Jacques Ponzio, Round about Monk
- Thelonious Monk at Discogs (English)
- wildnewyork: Manhattan's long-gone San Juan Hill . At: ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com - with impressive photos from the 1940s. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- Kelley 2009, pp. 150f.
- Kelley 2009, p. 31.
- Kelley 2009, p. 151.
- Kelley 2009, p. 507.
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Monk, Thelonious Sphere (full name)|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||American jazz musician, pianist and composer|
|DATE OF BIRTH||October 10, 1917|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Rocky Mount , North Carolina|
|DATE OF DEATH||17th February 1982|
|Place of death||Weehawken , New Jersey|