Striding Ahead With Monk

Following Stephanie Link’s performance in the January 31 exhibit, perhaps you were wondering about stride piano’s influence on modern jazz. Wonder no more. Kindly pay attention to Thelonious Monk’s left hand.

Monk was a busy fella at the Berlin Jazztage in 1969. He played several pieces by Duke Ellington and some of his own. The Berliners also teamed him Joe Turner, not the singer but one of the last of the authentic masters of the first stride generation. Monk and Turner played a blues in honor of Ellington. Stu Martin is the drummer, Hans Rettenbacher the bassist. Turner looks as if he wonders whether he’ll get his licks in, but toward the end, he does.

Monk Plays Ellington.jpgFor more of Monk on Ellington, this classic 1955 album has him playing eight Ellington compositions with bassist Oscar Pettiford and drummer Kenny Clarke. It was his first album for the Riverside label, and it had a great deal to with Monk’s rise from the insider’s favorite jazz eccentric to general recognition as one of the music’s great originals.

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