I caught an interview with a biographer on Terry Gross’ Fresh Air today about a new book on Thelonious Monk. Monk was one of the first jazz musicians I really got in to. He’d been around for twenty years or so before I discovered him. The word genius is thrown around a lot, and it’s used quite liberally in a documentary on HBO called The Jazz Baroness. But a genius Monk surely was. Monk was also bi-polar before we’d ever heard of such a thing.
Between the Terry Gross interview and the documentary (which is on HBO On-Demand for a another week) there’s a lot of biographical information that I never knew – not that I’d ever delved and dug looking for it. The documentary itself was made by the niece of Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter, Hannah Rothschild. Yep, those Rothschild’s, which makes the story even more fascinating. although not an especially accomplished doc, it’s a fascinating look at this “Jazz Baroness” and her relationship not only with Monk but with literally hundreds of jazz greats. It’s a fascinating look at that period in jazz music history. If you revere Monk or like jazz at all, this is certainly worth a look.
Monk’s son (T. Monk) is one of the talking heads in the doc. I had the pleasure of catching T. Monk at a local jazz club in Boston several years ago. He put on a good show.
I love Monk’s ‘Round Midnight, of course but I also love this one: Ruby, My Dear.