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I thought I knew quite a bit about Thelonius and his music but after reading this book I realized that there was a lot I didn't know not only about him but about his family, friends and the musicians he worked with. Each chapter covers specific years in his life and career and is delivered in chronological order. The book details all his performances and recording dates and the author does a nice job showing how Monk rehearsed, tutored and introduced new band members to his music. One of the things unfortunately that Monk came to be know for was his perceived eccentricities and the book shows that of those things that actually occurred the source of this came mostly from his struggle with a bi-polar disorder that went undiagnosed for most of his life.
There is one aspect of the book that I think distracts from an otherwise good accounting of everything you wanted to know about Thelonius Monk and his music. The author continually tries to connect Monk’s motivations, emotions and thoughts with many of the tragic events of the 60s surrounding the civil rights movement . No doubt Monk was more than mildly troubled by the events as many of us were but the recorded quotes and answer to interview questions belies any specific concerns on his part.. In fact what comes through loud and clear is that Monk was primarily concerned with providing for his family and civil rights issues though important were not foremost in his mind.
If you want to learn about Monk and the jazz world of his time I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
 

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This is a splendid biography of one of the seminal figures of modern jazz. The book truly brings Monk to life, and sheds wonderful light on his various activities.

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All reviews - 39