Book Review: Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
Kelley directly tackles the broad perception that Thelenious Monk was generally misunderstood and portrayed unfairly by the media…
Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original.
Author: Robin DG Kelley
Rating: 3.7 / 5
Kelley directly tackles the broad perception that Thelenious Monk was generally misunderstood and portrayed unfairly by the media. Much like his music, Monk had many dimensions (likely fueled by drug use and mental disorders), which this book vividly delinates through anecdotes, quotes, and a deep investigation into the origin stories of Monk and the rise of bebop in the mid-20th century. My favorite threads in this book include detailed accounts of the songs: what was Monk doing when he composed them, who was it written for, how was it supposed to be played, etc. I find this information particularly helpful when I attempt to play Monk’s music myself. My biggest complaint is this book’s length. Excessive explanation is given to numerous gigs and tours, with trivial anecdotes sprinkled throughout, leaving me skimming to rush to the end. Lastly, my admiration grew for Monk, as I had always sensed he was true to his music and did not sell out to cater to larger audiences, and . This book does a good job of surfacing the depths of the High Priest of Bebop.