Monk

Laurent De Wilde, Author Marlowe & Company $22.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-56924-740-2
In this vibrant addition to the spate of books about the legendary jazz pianist and composer, Thelonious Monk (1917-1982), de Wilde, himself a jazz pianist, approaches his subject with the sensibility of a fellow musician. He covers the few available facts of Monk's life (Monk was not known to talk about himself, and his privacy was strictly protected by his wife and his friend Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswater), and he discusses the musicians and others who worked with him. For the most part, however, de Wilde concentrates on the music, writing in an impressionistic style that captures much of the ""incomprehensible magic"" of Monk's genius: ""Monk composes with a burin and a chisel. Each time he plays a note, it's as if a little shard of marble flies off."" At a performance: ""He floats, he sails, and he cruises and tacks like a yacht."" In the studio where one of his compositions is being recorded: ""All the musicians at the session have their tires screeching, trying to make the hairpin turns at breakneck speed!"" With vivid pictures such as these, de Wilde evokes the ""strange, remarkable lands which bore the Monk signature."" (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
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