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Release: Jan. 7, 2000

T.S. Monk celebrates the jazz genius of his dad, Thelonious Monk

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Drummer T.S. Monk will celebrate the jazz legacy of his father, the legendary pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, in "Monk on Monk" at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

The "Monk on Monk" concert in Hancher -- presented as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Week at the UI -- follows up on the 1998 "Monk on Monk" CD, which was honored as "Record of the Year" in the New York Jazz Awards and was "Jazz Album of the Year" in the readers' poll of Downbeat magazine.

Reviewing a "Monk on Monk" concert, Don Heckman wrote in the Los Angeles Times: "Good stuff, all of it, with almost every number underscoring and confirming the breadth and scope of Monk's creative imagination. Not only did he compose music filled with instantly recognizable themes, but he did so in a startling array of styles. . . . Perhaps most of all, there was an utter individuality to all of it, never leaving the slightest doubt that this was Monk's music. . . Somewhere, one suspects, Monk -- who died in 1982 at 64 -- was listening, doing his trademark little dance, happily grooving with the music."

Thelonious Sphere Monk is recognized as one of the most influential figures in the history of jazz. He was one of the architects of bebop and his impact as a composer and pianist has had an influence on virtually every genre of music.

Thelonious Monk began piano lessons as a young child and by the age of 13 he had won the weekly amateur contest at the Apollo Theater so many times that he was barred from entering. At the age of 19, Monk joined the house band at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, where along with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and a handful of other players, he developed the style of jazz that came to be known as bebop. "Round Midnight" and other Monk compositions served as vehicles for these soloists' musical ideas.

In 1947, Monk made his first recordings as a leader for the Blue Note label. These albums are some of the earliest documents of his unique compositional and improvisational style, both of which employed unusual repetition of phrases, an offbeat use of space and joyfully dissonant sounds.

In the decade that followed, Monk played on recordings with Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Sonny Rollins, and he recorded as a leader for Prestige Records and later for Riverside Records.

In 1957, the Thelonious Monk Quartet, which included John Coltrane, began a regular gig at the Five Spot. The group's performances were hugely successful and received the highest critical praise.

Over the next few years, Monk toured the United States and Europe and made some of his most influential recordings. In 1964, Thelonious Monk appeared on the cover of Time magazine, an honor that has been bestowed on only three other jazz musicians. By this time, Monk was a favorite at jazz festivals around the world.

In the early '70s he discontinued touring and recording and appeared only on rare occasions at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Newport Jazz Festival.

His more than 70 compositions are regarded as classics, and they continue to inspire artists in many forms of music. In his lifetime he received numerous awards and continues to be honored posthumously. The Smithsonian Institution has immortalized his work with an archive of his music. In addition, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp in his honor. A feature documentary on Monk's life, "Straight, No Chaser" was released to critical acclaim.

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz was founded to honor Monk by preserving the music to which he dedicated his life.

T.S. Monk had an extraordinary childhood, as the son of one of the central figures in jazz. The Monk home was the gathering place for musicians including Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach.

As a child, T.S. first played trumpet. However, he moved on to the drums after receiving encouragement from Max Roach who gave him his first pair of drum sticks and Art Blakey who gave him his first full drum set.

T.S. played for four years with his father's band, was a member of the Atlantic Record's nine-piece fusion band Natural Essence and recorded four albums with Paul Jeffrey's Big Band. He formed the group "T.S. Monk" with his sister Boo Boo Monk and vocalist Yvonne Fletcher, with whom he recorded three albums for Mirage Records and charted a top 40 hit with their single "Bon Bon Vie." T.S. went on to record an album on Manhattan Records entitled "Merc' N Monk" with composer Eric Mercury.

In preparation for "coming out" in the jazz arena, T. S. performed with Clifford Jordan's Big Band for almost a year. He then released his first mainstream jazz CD as a leader on Blue Note Records. "Take One," released in the summer of 1992, met immediate critical acclaim.

In celebrating the legacy of his father, T.S. Monk has become -- along with Wynton Marsalis and Billy Taylor -- among the most widely known jazz spokespersons in America. He served as artistic director for "A Tribute to America's Music" televised on ABC-TV and produced by The Thelonious Monk Institute. He also hosted the nationally televised "Jazz at the White House" and has been the chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute for more than a decade.

T.S. simply sees himself giving back to jazz what jazz and his father have given him. "I can't do what my father did musically, but my father's legacy has afforded me the opportunity to spread the appreciation and acknowledgement of jazz internationally."

Learn more about T.S. Monk and Thelonious Monk on the World Wide Web at <>. For information on UI arts, visit <>.

Corporate sponsors of "Monk on Monk" are UI Men's Intercollegiate Athletics and Group 5 Hospitality/Radisson Highlander Plaza, through the University of Iowa Foundation, with media support from the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Tickets for "Monk on Monk" are $28, $26 and $24. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for children 17 and younger are half price. Hancher volume-purchase discounts are still available.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

(NOTE TO EDITORS: T.S. Monk interview requests should be directed to Ed Keane at 617-567-6300. Fax: 617-569-5949. E-mail: <>)