Thelonious Monk | KNKX

Thelonious Monk

Photo by Abe Beeson

Saturday marks the 13th annual celebration of record stores worldwide, Record Store Day. During a global pandemic, this day honoring a key part of our music community will look very different. Record stores in the Northwest are finding creative ways to keep the music community connected... and grab some outstanding previously unreleased and newly reissued jazz and blues records.

Abe Beeson

One of the most idiosyncratic musicians in jazz, Thelonious Monk is also one of the most popular. KNKX jazz host Abe Beeson is a big fan, but he’s been wondering: just what is it that makes Monk’s music so cool?

The New Cool: MAST Takes Monk to Space

Feb 16, 2018
Hand painted by Tokio Aoyama.

Multi-instrumentalist Tim Conley, performing as MAST, has just released a new collection of Thelonious Monk tunes. "Another one?" I hear you saying. Well, this collection of Monk tunes, simply titled Thelonious Sphere Monk, takes the jazz giant's music to wild electronic destinations. Thankfully, to a Monk fan like me, it really works.

Thelonious Monk at Minton's Playhouse, New York, 1947
William Gottlieb / Public Domain

Tuesday October 10th is the 100th birthday of jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk.  Often referred to as "the Picasso of bebop," or "the High Priest of bop," Monk helped to push jazz to a new era and beyond.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the bebop scene was full of unusual, quirky sounds and characters, but none quite so unpredictable and original as Monk.  He may have frightened some jazz fans away with his sometimes bizarre behavior, but the musicians knew they were dealing with genius.

Justin Steyer / KNKX

The Earshot Jazz Festival returns this weekend, and the fine folks at Earshot continue their tradition of presenting world class live jazz that stretches the definition of this music to its limits. In other words, fans of The New Cool have plenty to be excited about. It's a different kind of jazz festival, one or two amazing shows nearly every night for more than a month - your only excuse for missing a show is because it's sold out. That will happen, so get your tickets now!

Amber French

A sampling of new and recent releases by resident Northwest musicians is featured on Jazz Northwest this week. One of the most unusual is Recording Ban by Jacob Zimmerman.  The title refers to the musicians' union strike against the recording companies 1942-1944. The Recording Ban occurred at a time when jazz was evolving from Swing to Bop and as a result some significant music was not played in recording studios during those years.

Last week, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz announced the 12 semi-finalists for its annual competition for young musicians, often seen as the most prestigious in jazz today.