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Publisher's Summary

Thelonious Monk is the critically acclaimed, gripping saga of an artist's struggle to "make it" without compromising his musical vision. It is a story that, like its subject, reflects the tidal ebbs and flows of American history in the 20th century.

To his fans, he was the ultimate hipster; to his detractors, he was temperamental, eccentric, taciturn, or childlike. His angular melodies and dissonant harmonies shook the jazz world to its foundations, ushering in the birth of "bebop" and establishing Monk as one of America's greatest composers.

Elegantly written and rich with humor and pathos, Thelonious Monk is the definitive work on modern jazz's most original composer.

©2009 Robin D. G. Kelley (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Every step of Monk's musical journey is teased out in meticulous detail...whether he's charting the highs or lows of Monk's emotional swings, Kelley rarely strays from his central theme of an extraordinary talent pushing against the boundaries of his art." ( Publishers Weekly)

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What listeners say about Thelonious Monk

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The definitive bio of Monk

Excellent book!!! Excellent story about Mr. Monk, his devotion to his family, his generosity to fellow musicians, his tenacity and dedication to his vision of modern music. The people who surround Monk like Nelly and Nica, aa well as his associates in the music business get a fair shake in this book. Mr. Monk is examined fairly and accurately in all aspects of his life. His “eccentric “ behavior and chemical imbalance are addressed clinically yet compassionately.
Every aspect of Monk’s creative life and musical output is completely discussed. This is “The Book” on Mr. Monk. Excellent. 1000 stars

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best audible book yet

Loved the story and absolutely loved the narrator. Couldn't help but enjoy some Monk albums at the same time that I was hearing the book.

1 person found this helpful

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Authoritative and well investigated bio w/analysis

Well researched. Gives an accurate biography with very thorough and specific information about dates, musical collaborators, and track listings. Reading is patient and expressive without undue dramatization as befits the text. A bit dry, but highly informative..

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Absolutely Wonderful

I never wanted to turn it off. A beautifully written tribute to one of America's best original musicians.

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  • 07-21-21

Very Worth Reading

Very detailed, sometimes making it slow reading, especially at the beginning, but so much valuable and interesting information about Monk, jazz, other musicians, and the times.
Most importantly, gave me a better understanding of this complex person and genius who has influenced music so profoundly.
Enjoy.

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When does the movie come out!

I really enjoyed this book. It was long but so packed with history and side stories that greatly enhanced the story of T Monk. I am not a jazzer but am interested in learning about Thelonius Monk. I have purposely sought out and listened to the pieces that the author mentions and his story makes the music great

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Excellent book!

Strongly recommend this for any jazz fan. Insightful & myth-busting. Forget everything you learned in music school about Monk & give this a listen.

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Justice for Monk

Monk truly deserved to have this book written. After all the nonsense said about him, he deserved this. Beautiful and touching. I feel so honored to listen to his music and to understand his life through a masterful and sympathetic writer. Thank you both. Justice for Monk. And god bless Nellie.

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Astonishing

Robin D.G. Kelley’s achievement cannot be overstated. This is a comprehensive book that covers in detail nearly every aspect of Thelonious Monk’s life, and takes great pains to accurately and expressively contextualize his life and his music. The author’s love for his subject is unmistakable, and to be able to experience such an intimate and thorough portrait of Monk is a profound gift.

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I really love Monk now!

This was a really good one. You should get it now... If you are looking to learn something about perseverance jazz or you just want a good book you should get it now...