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Monk’s Southern homecoming and the “Little Giant of Jazz”


by Sam Baker 8 Nov 2007

In 1970, Thelonious Monk returned to his home state of North Carolina to play a gig at a tiny jazz club in Raleigh. Under normal circumstances, this never would have happened. Writer Sam Stephenson outlines all the reasons it did in his profile of the pianist-composer’s homecoming for the Oxford American magazine’s annual music issue […]

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In 1970, Thelonious Monk returned to his home state of North Carolina to play a gig at a tiny jazz club in Raleigh. Under normal circumstances, this never would have happened. Writer Sam Stephenson outlines all the reasons it did in his profile of the pianist-composer’s homecoming for the Oxford American magazine’s annual music issue . Along the way, Stephenson explores the southern influences in Monk’s music and traces his family history back to his slave ancestors and their white owners. A fascinating read.

From the same issue (and ripe for debate), the profile of jazz saxophonist and composer Don Redman, perhaps best remembered today as co-writer of the standard, “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You?”. Beginning with an early hit, “Blue Eyed Baby from Memphis,” David French makes an interesting case for Redman’s innovations being ahead of such greats as Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman. The Redman profile also mentions an appearance with Betty Boop in a 1933’s Vitaphone short, “I Heard,” now available at YouTube.com. The short features Redman’s then-popular number, “Chant of the Weed.”

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