Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

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Simon and Schuster, Dec 8, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 608 pages
15 Reviews
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From the mind of brilliant historian Robin Kelley comes the first full biography of legendary jazz musician Thelonious Monk, including full access to the family's archives, dozens of interviews, and an afterword for Monk’s 2017 centennial.

Thelonious Monk is the critically acclaimed, gripping saga of an artist’s struggle to “make it” without compromising his musical vision. It is a story that, like its subject, reflects the tidal ebbs and flows of American history in the twentieth century.

To his fans, he was the ultimate hipster; to his detractors, he was temperamental, eccentric, taciturn, or childlike. His angular melodies and dissonant harmonies shook the jazz world to its foundations, ushering in the birth of “bebop” and establishing Monk as one of America’s greatest com­posers.

Elegantly written and rich with humor and pathos, Thelonious Monk is the definitive work on modern jazz’s most original composer.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BooksForDinner - LibraryThing

Read this seven or eight years ago, but listening to and playing a lot of Monk these days so revisiting. Even better the second time not that I am so much more intimate with his music. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jasoncomely - LibraryThing

Thelonious Monk was a trendsetter, musical genius and a committed family man, but not particularly controversial. There's so much mystique surrounding the guy that I guess I expected more weirdness. This one I DNF'd half-way through. Read full review

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About the author (2009)

Robin D. G. Kelley teaches History at UCLA and is the author of several books, including Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination and Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression.

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