Thelonious Monk was more than a musical genius. He was an architect of emotions who was able to see, with medical precision, what his audience was feeling and then insert his slick music right into the heart for healing. He did not believe that good music took discipline and hard work. His music was the result of decades of purposeful experimentation and refinement. He was well known for the contributions he made to jazz music.
He was a composer and pianist of American jazz and he was considered one of the greats among American musicians. He was born in 1917 and lived until 1982. His music utilized a unique improvisational style which helped make him famous. He was well known for his contributions to the changing standard of jazz repertoire. He was the second highest recorded jazz composer in the industry and was only preceded by Duke Ellington. He was well known for such hits as “Straight, No Chaser”, as well as “BlueMonk”, “Round Midnight”, and “Epistrophy”. He wrote only 70 songs and yet was ranked second behind Ellington who wrote over 1,000 songs.
His work, including improvisations and compositions predominately features angular melodic twists as well as dissonances. Both tools were consistent with the unorthodox approach to jazz piano for which this artist was famous. He utilized highly percussive attacks with dramatic hesitations and moments of silence. This style was not appreciated by everyone but among his particular audience it remained very popular and today is what has made (and kept) him as famous as it has.
Monk is famous for his very distinctive suits, as well as his stylish sunglasses and hats. He is popular for the fact that he would also stop during parts of his performance while the rest of the musicians on stage would continue playing, and he would stand and dance for a few minutes prior to returning to play the piano. He is one of only five jazz musicians to be featured on a Time Magazine cover. He joins greats before him including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, and Wynton Marsalis.
He remains one of the most popular jazz musicians in the industry with hits and musical styles that altered the genre forever. He became quite popular for his contributions and improvisations and for that he will remain one of the most popular jazz artists in history. His audience remains touched forever by his work.
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