Monk’s Life, Music and Catalog

Originally written in German by a jazz journalist Thomas Fitterling, Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music is divided into three parts. The first part on Monk’s life is rather brief since Monk was an introvert who lived in his own world and could go on for days without speaking. The only language he would speak was his music. Because of his strange personality, Monk’s music reflected his idiosyncratic character. His style was full of angularity and way far from the standard sound of bebop. Beside his original compositions—”Epistrophy,” “Straight, No Chaser,” “Well, You Needn’t,” “Bemsha Swing,” “Blue Monk,” “Brilliant Corner,” “Crepuscule With Nellie” (a hymn for his wife), “Criss Cross,” which became jazz standards—Monk’s recompositional technique made him an unmistakable ballad player. Monk’s catalog, the third part of the book, featured Fitterling’s listening guides to Monk music. Although his writing is a bit technical, it would be helpful if you have the albums to accompany his commentary. This book is a pleasurable reading material if you would like to learn about Monk.