• Composer of the Week:   Thelonious Monk
    Presented in Honor of Black History Month

    Monk Thelonious Monk was born in 1917 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.  He is one of America’s most famous jazz musicians and composers.   He is one of only five jazz musicians to be featured on the cover of Time magazine, and won multiple awards during his career.   Monk was mostly self-taught on the piano, which led him to performing on the organ in church.  He eventually became interested in playing and writing jazz music.  He did not graduate high school. 



    Monk was known for being a leader in developing the “Be-bop” jazz style.  In the 1940’s, he played at jazz clubs in Manhattan (New York City) alongside other great jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.  Together, these musicians defined the Be-bop sound.  Be-bop jazz was usually played by a smaller group called a jazz combo, and contained much more dissonance (sounds that have a harsh or unusual sound when combined).  



    Thelonious Monk continued to compose and perform through the 1950’s and 1960’s.  He often led jazz groups with other famous musicians like John Coltrane and Miles Davis.   In the 1960’s, his health began to decline due to some sort of mental illness.  In fact, his son (T.S. Monk)* said that by the late 1960’s, his father couldn’t always recognize him.   Thelonious Monk died in 1982 of a stroke.  He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.   


    *Fun Fact:  Mr. Walter had the opportunity to meet and play with Thelonious Monk's son, T.S. Monk, at a jazz clinic in the summer of 1994.  

     Map of Rocky Mount, North Carolina

    Music History (Periods of Music)

    The Music of Thelonious Monk