Thelonious Monk’s Advice to Musicians

6 Feb

A friend recently sent me this document claiming it to be written by Thelonious Monk, but it’s actually written by saxophonist Steve Lacy. These are notes he took from his time playing with Monk in 1960, and Steve uses these notes extensively in his introduction to the book Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music. I find it an inexhaustible fountain of wisdom. This was posted around the beginning of the year at I’ve also added a cool youtube video of Monk playing “‘Round Midnight”. Enjoy!monks-advice2


9 Responses to “Thelonious Monk’s Advice to Musicians”

  1. diembe February 8, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    this stuff is alchemal. i’ve got goosebumps. what a find!

    there’s a small jazz club in berkeley i walked past a few months ago, and taped to their window facing the sidewalk was an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet with the monk-attributed quotation (i’m paraphrasing here): “i don’t need to read the newspapers, i just sit on my front porch and vibrate.”

    i’ve been unable to locate/verify that quote; sure sounds like something he would say / do.

    any thoughts about the parenthetical glyph with the arrow and “monk”? i’m intrigued by that one.


  2. Felicia February 9, 2009 at 11:24 pm #

    Thelonious Monk was amazing in the sense that when he was being subdued, we were amazed by the GRANDEUR of his playing!
    I personally have come to experience his advice (lacking thereof until now)!
    I hope the young Catz coming up read his words as they show off to their friends that they can play some Monk! Sometimes it’s more important to know the musicianship of a musician rather than his/her music! Beyond the Grave, MONK is the MONK!

  3. Gil Gault February 10, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    What a treasure lies inside my computer, most notably Jazz24. I personally like the line, “A genius if the one most like himself”. God bless this radio station and all the listeners!

  4. dave p. June 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    I just came across this — it’s awesome.

    Diembe asked: “any thoughts about the parenthetical glyph with the arrow and “monk”? i’m intrigued by that one.”

    I just finished Robin D.G. Kelley’s excellent bio of Monk. He describes how Monk had a massive ring made with his name on it, and that he always pointed out that when it faced others it read “KNOW” (Monk upside-down and backwards). Apparently, he loved that.

  5. comiso demici June 16, 2010 at 1:00 am #

    I’m confessin that I love I this

  6. Fats Navarro Fan September 8, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    Thanks! I was rcently discussing Charles Mingus vs. Art Pepper . This will prove helpful in the conversation.

  7. danielo July 22, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    If you read monk in the opposite direction you get a kind of mirror of the word know
    I think that’s what monk meant by his name and the arrow

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    What’s up it’s me, I am also visiting this site regularly, this web
    page is in fact nice and the viewers are genuinely sharing pleasant thoughts.


  1. the internet’s still kinda cool « Id Eco Super Eco - March 22, 2009

    […] it along, but second that this is something that I had come across independently a month or so ago on a really outstanding and intelligent jazz blog that I […]

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