Kelley, Robin D. G.
Adult Nonfiction ML417.M846 K46 2009
Summary: The image of Thelonious Sphere Monk (1917-1982), with his trademark goatee, dark glasses, and hat, is today a poster-image of coolness just as Che Guevara's face once was an image of rebellion. Jazz fans revere Monk for his ground-breaking compositions and piano playing from the 1950s and 1960s, but to a wider audience he stands for something much bigger: the very idea of native genius; a quirky, absent-minded, unalloyed originality that is the perfect symbol of the indefinable essence of jazz. Monk's creations from the 1950s and 1960s rank among jazz's most beloved classics, yet Kelley shows that the life behind the music was anything but triumphant. A husband and father, Monk nonetheless moved in with an aristocratic Dutch hipster, Nica de Koenigsvater, known as "the Jazz Baroness," a key, strange patron of modern jazz. He continued to compose subtle, deceptively simple-sounding classics, while descending into depression and erratic behaviour. A once-energetic, joking, handsome young man grew into his image as a tortured artist, and the Monk mystique took hold.
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