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Falling In Love Supreme: For Vernettia Syphax, Monk Bridged A Musical Generation Gap


by Vernettia Syphax

Jazz sprang from a bygone era that had nothing to do with my life in my mind. Listening to it willingly was out of the question. I mean, jazz was my parents’ music, not mine.

Those thoughts changed when I heard Thelonious Monk’s “Thelonious Alone In San Francisco.” A friend of mine put it on the turntable at her apartment as we waited for others to arrive for a dinner party.

The album’s first track, "Blue Monk," hooked me immediately. My first thought was, "Pretty music." But Monk transformed the pretty into something unexpected by the way he’d hit the keys, change up the tempo and pause. This was complex and challenging music to my 21-year old ears, like nothing else I had heard before.

The next day, I went out and bought the CD and listened to it over and over, each time discovering something new in Monk’s solo piano.

I eventually decided to give my parents’ music another listen. I discovered Wes Montgomery, Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker and Marian McPartland. All of them, along with my dear Thelonious, are now a part of the soundtrack of my life.

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