The singular music of jazz legend Thelonious Monk has been interpreted by countless players over the years. Great jazz pianists like Bud Powell, McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans, Randy Weston, Barry Harris, Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea have dealt with his unorthodox dissonances, angular melodic twists, percussive attack and dramatic use of silences and hesitations. Saxophonists from Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane to Steve Lacy and Anthony Braxton and trumpeters from Miles Davis and Chet Baker to Woody Shaw and Wallace Roney have covered Monk’s music. Others like salsa king Tito Puente and trumpeter- conguero Jerry Gonzalez and his Fort Apache Band have interpreted Monk’s idiosyncratic rhythms through their own Afro-Cuban prism while the great Andalusian pianist Chano Dominguez has offered a passionate flamenco spin on Monk.
What is it about Monk's music that makes it so 'ripe' for interpretation? “It’s because he’s so hip in so many ways!,” says the Valencia-born pianist-composer and current Bay Area resident Alex Conde. “I can’t imagine a more hip jazz pianist than Monk. And has there ever been a hip- per composer in the history of jazz? While his colleagues were playing at such a speed in the era of bebop, thousands of notes, he came along with such a unique tone, a cluster approach. Bang! Keeping a hot, alive swing feel was his goal. How can anybody resist or not feel attracted to such energy? I couldn’t keep myself away from his infectious style and compositions.”