Thelonious Monk Offers Advice on Playing a Gig and How to Dress in Scribbled Notes

Open Culture  recently posted what music geeks everywhere will view as one of the best finds ever:
Transcribed by soprano sax player Steve Lacy in a spiral-bound notebook,Thelonious Monk created a primer of do’s and don’ts for club musicians. For the greenhorns, Monk presented a syllabus for Band Etiquette 101 titled “1. Monk’s Advice (1960).” For the rest of us, it’s a view into one of the greatest, quirkiest minds of American music.
The advice offered by Monk was mostly regarding how to play a band gig.  Here are a few highlights:
  • “Don’t play the piano part. I’m playing that. Don’t listen to me. I’m supposed to be accompanying you!”
  • “Don’t play everything (or every time); let some things go by. Some music just imagined. What you don’t play can be more important than what you do.”
  • “Just because you’re not a drummer doesn’t mean that you don’t have to keep time!”

But Monk also offered advice on how to dress,  “Sharp as possible!” With these notes we all get a sneak peak into the method behind Monk’s music, and what types of rules and guidelines nurtured his gift.

As everyone who listens to Monk knows, he had his quirks, but this list of notes to self reveals just how much he thought about his work, and how he worked to become a better artist, and to push others to become better. It’s rare that we get that sort of glimpse into a genius mind, which makes this read all the more enjoyable.

Thelonious Monk was one of the greatest jazz pianists and composers, often considered one of the giants of not only American jazz, but American music as well.

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3 Responses to Thelonious Monk Offers Advice on Playing a Gig and How to Dress in Scribbled Notes

  1. Derrick September 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    “But Monk also offered advice on how to dress, “Sharp as possible!”
    =============================

    I hope some of these artist today read this sentence!

    Monk started playing the piano at the age of six, and he was a self-taught musician. Later on in life, he was unknowingly given LSD, and this may have caused him to have brain damage.

    He was one of the greatest jazz artist of all time along with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Pharoh Sanders, and Freddie Hubbard just to name a few. Monk loved music, and he could carry a conversation for two hours on this subject!!!

    There was a time when every major city had a jazz station 24/7, now it’s hard to find any station that plays jazz, unless it’s off the internet!!!

    AIN’T NOTHING LIKE SOME GOOD JAZZ; IT NEVER GROWS OLD!

    Reply
  2. Juney September 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I love the last one in his notes.

    Reply
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    Le Centre Cornwell à Myers Park Baptist Community center présente fièrement Red Footwear Big 5K http://www.cm-cergy.fr/event Un événement de remise en forme FamilyFriendly avec le carnaval!

    Reply

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