Thelonious Monk

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Decades: 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
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Thelonious Sphere Monk, 11 October 1917, Rocky Mount, North Carolina, USA, d. 17 February 1982, Weehawken, New Jersey, USA. Monk’s family moved to New York when he was five years old. He started playing piano a year later, receiving formal tuition from the age of 11 onwards. At Stuyvesant High School he excelled at physics and maths, and also found time to play organ in church. In the late 30s he toured with a gospel group, then began playing in the clubs and became pianist in Kenny Clarke’s house band at Minton’s Playhouse between 1941 and 1942. He played with Lucky Millinder’s orchestra in 1942, the Coleman Hawkins Sextet between 1943 and 1945, the Dizzy Gillespie big band in 1946 and started leading his own outfits from 1947. It was Hawkins who provided him with his recording debut, and enthusiasts noted a fine solo on ‘Flyin’ Hawk’ (October 1944). However, it was the Blue Note Records sessions of 1947 (subsequently issued on...

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by Thelonious Monk