With the arrival of Thelonious Sphere Monk, modern musiclet alone modern culture–simply hasnt been the same. Recognized as one of the most inventive pianists of any musical genre, Monk achieved a startlingly original sound that even his most devoted followers have been unable to successfully imitate. His musical vision was both ahead of its time and deeply rooted in tradition, spanning the entire history of the music from the stride masters of James P. Johnson and Willie the Lion Smith to the tonal freedom and kinetics of the avant garde. And he shares with Edward Duke Ellington the distinction of being one of the centurys greatest American composers.
At the same time, his commitment to originality in all aspects of lifein fashion, in his creative use of language and economy of words, in his biting humor, even in the way he danced away from the pianohas led fans and detractors alike to call him eccentric, mad or even taciturn. Consequently, Monk has become perhaps the most talked about and least understood artist in the history of jazz.