Lake Oconee News, November 3, 2023
The final performance for 2023 from The Jazz Legacy Project at Festival Hall in Greensboro, featured the life, times and music of jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, who was born in 1917 at Rocky Mount, N.C.
With an improvisational style, Monk made many contributions to the standard jazz reper- toire and is the second-most-recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington and one of only five to have been featured on the cover of Time Magazine.
Monk signed with Blue Note Records in 1947 and the “Monk Blue Note Sessions” were recorded between 1947 and 1952. He was under contract with Prestige Records for two years and from 1955 to 1961 with Riverside Records, where he recorded two albums as a means to increase his widespread appeal.
Monk was in residence for six months at the Five Spot Café in the East Village of New York and led a quartet with John Coltrane on tenor sax, Wilbur Ware on bass and Shadow Wilson on drums. When his residency ended the group disbanded until June 1958 when Monk returned for another six months at Five Spot with a new quartet including tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin (later to be replaced by Charlie Rouse), bassist Ahmed Abdel-Malik and drummer Roy Haynes.
Monk signed with Columbia Records in 1962 and “Monk’s Dream” was released the next year. Other albums included “Criss Cross” and ‘Under- ground’, with the latter being his last Columbia studio record. Monk also had multiple live albums released during that time, although “Live at the Jazz Workshop” wasn’t released until 1982.
Due to ill health, Monk was rarely seen during the last decade of his life and died of a stroke in February 1982.
The Jazz Legacy Project will return to Festival Hall Feb. 8, 2024, with “Time Out” featuring the life and music of Dave Brubeck. For further details, visit Festival Hall online at festivalhallga.com.