Friday, September 18, 2009

After Hours

Thelonious Monk. Blue Monk

This is a segment from the brief TV series The Sound of Jazz. It was a show that aired in the late fifties after somebody discovered that jazz was a home-grown American art form. This caused all kinds of guys in the early fifties to dash around with microphones asking the star players of the day exactly what jazz was. Many answers were given, but by far, the best one came from Louis Armstrong. When somebody asked him that exact question, he replied, "If you gotta ask, you'll never know." So much for that approach! Later in the fifties, it became preferable to just throw a bunch of jazz musicians together and have them play or watch others play. Here we have Monk, with Malik and Johnson on bass and drums, being watched by Count Basie, Jimmy Rushing, the host-guy and Coleman Hawkins. Basie looks slightly bemused, Rushing looks confused, the host-guy looks about ready to call the police and Hawkins is totally into it. The thing about Monk was that he was crazy. No doubt about it. If you've ever seen Straight, No Chaser, you'll come to the same conclusion. He wrote some very cool, very odd music through his mid-functioning craziness. And this is one of those tunes. Oh, and the bamboo shades probably sent Middle America reaching for its tranquilizers. Monk wasn't an entertainer, he was an artist, albeit a crazy one. I'm sure that many in this country had never seen a guy like him, let alone a black guy like him.

Incidentally, believe it or not, this is my 500th post on Hideous Belltown. To be honest, I never thought I'd get through the first 20 posts. Lucky for me, Belltown is the source of a lot of ugliness. The more ugly, the more posts. See how that works? Anyhow, I guarantee nothing, but I'll try to be around for a few hundred more posts. It all depends on how much my prose stylings continue to suck. But hey, thanks for reading.

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