Song of the Day(Shocktober): Thelonious Monk “Friday the 13th”
From the 1954 Prestige album entitled, “Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins”, comes this beautifully angular and spooky composition from the man who would have turned 100 this month! The recording of this album spanned approximately 12 months, with various personnel rounding out the rhythm section. This track highlights tenor man supreme, Mr. Sonny Rollins, credited as co-leader on the cover of this one, along with the great French Horn of Julius Watkins as the featured soloists here. Willie Jones‘ masterful drum work coupled with bassist Percy Heath‘s impeccable swing provide sensitive yet fiercely strong accompaniment to the improvised works of art on this extended blowing session. Written in the studio at the 1953 session that produced this gem, it was originally intended to essentially be a jam to fill out 10 minutes worth of album space. Monk later recorded a big band version of this tune in 1959 on the “The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall” album. The original quintet version featured here is my favorite!
Thelonious Sphere Monk was born on October 10th of 1917 and lived until February 17th of 1982. In those 65 years, this man revolutionized music as we know it. He left this world with a body of recordings and compositions that will continue to inspire awe, wonder, and creative approaches to both playing and appreciating music for all eternity. Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, he began teaching himself piano at age 6. By the time he reached his early teens, he was already touring as a church organist with an evangelist, and by his late teens, he was working as a jazz pianist. By the early 1940’s, he was holding down the piano chair at the famed Manhattan nightclub, Minton’s Playhouse, as one of the architects of Bebop. Along with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Christian, Kenny Clarke, and other musical titans, Monk set out to forge a new voice in Jazz that could not be easily copied. He went on to record extensively, and his discography reads like a whose who of Jazz. His compositions have become not only become standards, but they have set new standards as far as pushing the musical elements (harmony, melody & rhythm for starters) to new frontiers. After his death, the world to increasingly took note of his now beloved music & compositions. With each new generation of music lovers and players, his influence and notoriety have only continued to grow. LONG LIVE MONK!!! Happy 100th birthday to one of the most innovative and original musicians, composers, and human beings there ever was!