By James McGrew
Somewhere around 1955, when I was twelve, I lived in Burbank, California. I had a young cousin who had a small part in a Tony Curtis movie, and each day my mother would drive her to the set in nearby Hollywood for her scenes. One day, between takes, Tony Curtis invited my mother and cousin to his dressing room to chat. As they entered the room the most incredible jazz was playing from their host’s turntable. My mother asked who was making that marvelous music, and Tony Curtis said, “That is the incomparable Thelonious Monk.”
On the way home she stopped and bought Genius of Modern Music, Volume One, Blue Note LP 5002 (the album with the mostly black cover). When those sounds started coming out of our Grundig Majestic Hi Fi, I too, was amazed. That began a lifelong adventure in the enjoyment of jazz. To me, Thelonious Monk remains the most original and creative force in the world of jazz.