Thelonious Monk

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About Thelonious Monk

Composer, bandleader, and pianist Thelonious Monk was one of the defining architects of modern jazz and bebop, acclaimed for his inventive improvisational style. ∙ Monk got his first big break in the early 1940s as the pianist at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem, where he jammed with such other bebop pioneers as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. ∙ Jazz sax legend Coleman Hawkins hired Monk for the pianist’s first studio recording, and one of bebop’s seminal sessions, in 1944. ∙ In 1947, Monk first recorded his classic “’Round Midnight,” which has gone on to be the most-covered jazz standard of all time, by artists ranging from Miles Davis to Amy Winehouse. ∙ His 1957 Carnegie Hall performance with John Coltrane went unreleased until 2005, at which point it spent 91 weeks on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Albums chart, peaking at No. 2. ∙ TIME magazine featured him on its cover in 1964, following the release of his most commercially successful album, Monk’s Dream. ∙ He won a Lifetime Achievement Award Grammy in 1993 and was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize Special Citation in 2006, for his “significant and enduring impact on the evolution of jazz.” ∙ The BBC ranked Monk at No. 8 on their list of the greatest jazz artists of all time, just behind Billie Holiday.

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