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February 5, 2009 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Thelonius Monk's advice to Steve Lacy (as transcribed by Lacy)
posted by ericbop (24 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
I dig it.
posted by cimbrog at 8:25 AM on February 5, 2009


"It must always be night, otherwise they wouldn't need the lights."

- My new quote.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 8:25 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eponysterical.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:28 AM on February 5, 2009


"Make the drummer look good". This has to be the absolute best advice I've ever heard.

Don't ignore the people who are the foundation of your group in favour of the people getting all the limelight and attention; without a foundation, a house falls down.

If Theolonius Monk wasn't my hero before, he is now.
posted by LN at 8:47 AM on February 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Interestingly, Pynchon quotes Monk on the first page of "Against the Day" with this:

"It's always night, or we wouldn't need light."
posted by Glow Bucket at 8:54 AM on February 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I saw Monk and his group once, at Village Vanguard... god knows the year (I was about 19-20). He was playing energetically toward the treble end of the keyboard, and slipped off the bench ! People in the audience were agog. Mutterings about drugs. THen, at the intermission, he peed in the next urinal to me, and all this night I felt that he was a human, a grown man, a force, that I would not "feel" or "understand" at my current level of awareness. I left that nite just knowing that I had seen him.... the "hearing" part seemed even less important at that time. He seemed to me on a different plane, another space, you name it. ... Charlie Rouse played brilliantly that nite.
posted by yazi at 8:55 AM on February 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


It goes without saying that Monk was an incredible genius who was underappreciated for too long, but let me give a shoutout to Steve Lacy, who still isn't sufficiently appreciated for his own greatness and who was one of the few people who could consistently play Monk well (i.e. putting his own slant on it without its ceasing to be Monk). Check out his Monk recordings, especially Reflections, one of the most beautiful things ever set to vinyl whatever the kids are playing music on these days.
posted by languagehat at 9:06 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


i'm trying to imagine lacy still needing advice after tangling with cecil taylor in the mid-fifties (and just how come 'jazz advance' [blue note 1956] isn't universally recognized as the first free jazz album anyway?). my favorite line: 'you've got to dig it to dig it, you dig?'. now that's hip shit.
posted by barrett caulk at 9:20 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Melodious Thunk
posted by kersplunk at 9:20 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


yazi: " at the intermission, he peed in the next urinal to me"

Did you ask for an autograph? But seriously: that is probably the single coolest "brush with fame" anecdote I've ever heard.

What makes Monk fascinating even amongst the ranks of jazz geniuses is that he didn't seem to require any period of artistic development. He just kinda showed up with this brilliant keyboard conception, refined it over a decade or so, then - apparently having said his piece - shut up and stayed home.

I call that a paragon.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:21 AM on February 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Good stuff, thanks for the post.
posted by Outlawyr at 9:29 AM on February 5, 2009


My favorite:

"They tried to get me to hate white people, but someone would always come along and spoil it."
posted by caution live frogs at 9:36 AM on February 5, 2009


Some music just imagined.

Love it.
posted by grounded at 9:44 AM on February 5, 2009


Whenever I hear about Thelonius, I think of that Bill Clinton interview (which may or may not be true).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:06 AM on February 5, 2009


My favorite:

"A genius is the one most like himself."
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:07 AM on February 5, 2009


I wouldn't be a piano player without the music of Thelonious Monk and Sun Ra.
posted by kozad at 1:56 PM on February 5, 2009


filthy light thief: "which may or may not be true"

It doesn't have the ring of truth. Clinton strikes me as more of a Herbie Hancock guy.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:57 PM on February 5, 2009


When you're swinging, swing some more.

I think I get it now, everyone. Thanks for all of your help and assistance throughout the years, but I'm ascending now.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 2:24 PM on February 5, 2009


The advice about not playing everything hits home, I always did too much. Regeneration is pretty great, Roswell Rudd with Lacy.
posted by Alex Voyd at 6:04 PM on February 5, 2009


Straight, No Chaser is an outstanding documentary with some real insights into Thelonius in his later years. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to dig an American original.

Attention young MeFites: if you've never listened to the man's music, check out his late 40s recordings on The Best of the Blue Note Years. You will be able to hear what he meant by "imagined" music:

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.

Words to live by.
posted by rdone at 7:42 PM on February 5, 2009


The Bill Clinton inteview remark about "the loneliest monk" was asked by Tabitha Soren on MTV in 1992.
posted by eye of newt at 9:45 PM on February 5, 2009


Actually, in the NYT article she denies that she ever said it.
posted by eye of newt at 9:48 PM on February 5, 2009


This is awesome.
posted by Foosnark at 10:03 AM on February 6, 2009


Regeneration is pretty great, Roswell Rudd with Lacy.

I was just listening to that! A wonderful record, as is Rudd's Flexible Flyer (from 1974, with Sheila Jordan, Hod O'Brien, Barry Altschul, and Arild Andersen).

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.

That is indeed one of the all-time great artistic statements, applicable to just about any art. "Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter..."
posted by languagehat at 10:53 AM on February 6, 2009


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