Expanding on footage of Monk’s 1967 tour shot by Christian Blackwood, Charlotte Zwering (Gimme Shelter) has created the definitive filmic portrait of the master bop pianist-composer. This captivating DVD digs deeper into the life of the famously eccentric pianist-composer than the Ken Burns’s tepid coffeetable documentary Jazz ever thought to.
A documentary film about the life of pianist and jazz great Thelonious Monk. Features live performances by Monk and his band, and interviews with friends and family about the offbeat genius. This exemplary documentary about seminal jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk reaps the benefits of multiple blessings, including the skilled editorial hand of director Charlotte Zwerin and the patronage of executive producer (and erstwhile jazz pianist) Clint Eastwood. Most vital is the use of extensive 1968 footage, shot by Michael and Christian Blackwood, documenting the sometimes moody, sometimes puckish Monk in the studio, on tour, and off stage, which on its own would make this essential jazz viewing.
With his odd rhythmic spacing, discordant resolves and his circular yet angular compositional style, Thelonious Monk remains one of the most singular figures in all of jazz, and virtually every one of his recordings is as enigmatic as the pianist himself was. This set combines his five albums for Columbia Records, 1962's Criss Cross and Monk's Dream, 1964's Solo Monk, 1966's Straight, No Chaser, and 1967's Underground, in a single package, and anyone thinking Monk wasn't as vital during those years really needs to hear this stuff. It's classic Monk, and this collection is a great way to get it in a single swoop.