Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Sphere Monk was an American jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

A pianist is a musician who plays the piano. A professional pianist can perform solo pieces, play with an ensemble or orchestra, or accompany one or more singers, solo instrumentalists, or other performers.-Choice of genres:...

 and composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 considered "one of the giants of American music". Monk had a unique improvisation
Improvisation is the practice of acting, singing, talking and reacting, of making and creating, in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one's immediate environment and inner feelings. This can result in the invention of new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or symbols, and/or...

al style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including "Epistrophy
"Epistrophy" is a jazz standard composed by Thelonious Monk and Kenny Clarke in 1942. It has been called "the first classic, modern jazz composition."Its 'A' section is based on a pattern of alternating chords a semitone apart....

", "'Round Midnight
'Round Midnight (song)
Round Midnight" is a 1944 jazz standard by pianist Thelonious Monk. Jazz artists Cootie Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Pepper, and Miles Davis have further embellished the song, with songwriter Bernie Hanighen adding lyrics...

", "Blue Monk
Blue Monk
"Blue Monk" is a jazz standard written by Thelonious Monk that has become one of his most enduring tunes. It is a B flat blues, based on the jazz tune "Pastel Blue".-Performances:*1960: The Great Kai & J.J. by J. J...

", "Straight, No Chaser
Straight, No Chaser (composition)
"Straight, No Chaser" is a jazz standard composed by Thelonious Monk. It was first recorded on Monk's Blue Note Sessions in 1951. It has been recorded numerous times by Monk and others and is one of Monk's most covered songs....

" and "Well, You Needn't". Monk is the second most recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was an American composer, pianist, and big band leader. Ellington wrote over 1,000 compositions...

, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed over 1,000 songs while Monk wrote about 70.

His compositions and improvisations are full of dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists, and are consistent with Monk's unorthodox approach to the piano, which combined a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of silences and hesitations.

"I made the wrong mistakes"

(After a disappointing improvisation)

You've got to dig to dig it, you dig?

“Sometimes it's to your advantage for people to think you're crazy” (Source:

"It's always night, or we wouldn't need light." (Source:

"Trying to explain music is like trying to dance architecture" - variously attributed

"Butterflies faster than birds? Must be, 'cause with all the birds on the scene up in my neighborhood, there's this butterfly, and he flies any way he wanna." (Source: Time Magazine)