Monk’s tunes weren’t sweet like marshmallows, but they sure were sticky, and one function of his comps was to point players back to the molten core indicated by the title on the setlist. Monk’s painstaking compositions, reworked standards, and insistence that his sidemen learn his book by ear so they wouldn’t be tempted by the changes — all bespeak a committed melodicism that an 18- year-old jazz fan destined to spend his life listening to pop songs must have felt even when he lost the melody himself (which he still does sometimes).
“Not So Misterioso,” Robert Christgau, Barnes and Noble Review (2009). The Concord remaster of Thelonious Monk’s Misterioso is available as of May 15th. Watch Monk live in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1966 at Open Culture (via @openculture).
“I wrote ‘Open Source’ on my mother’s baby grand piano,” Collin “Calmer” Palmer explains. “That set the tone for what was to become the Past Is Present EP.” Incidentally, the artist’s mother was more involved in his creative nurturing than that—as a child in Pennsylvania’s Andrew Wyeth country, Palmer accompanied her at the same piano, where she captivated him with selections from the songbooks of Claude Debussy, Bach, and more. Read more of my 2009 feature on Calmer at PopMatters.