Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington: Solo Piano, Berlin 1969

In November of 1969 Thelonious Monk appeared at the Berliner Jazztage (“Berlin Jazz Days,” now known as JazzFest Berlin) and played a series of Duke Ellington pieces on solo piano. Monk brought his own quirky genius — his jagged-edged, percussive playing style and harmonic dissonance — to Ellington’s elegant melodies. The result was magic.

In the video above, Monk plays four compositions by Ellington — “Satin  Doll,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Caravan” and “Solitude” — followed by one of his own, “Crepuscule With Nellie,” before joining the Joe Turner Trio in a performance of “Blues for Duke.” The trio includes Turner on Piano, Hans Rettenbacher on bass and Stu Martin on drums. The performances are available on the DVD Monk Plays Ellington: Solo Piano in Berlin ’69.

Related content:

Thelonious Monk: Straight No Chaser

Advice From the Master: Thelonious Monk Scribbles a List of Tips for Playing a Gig

Duke Ellington Plays for Joan Miró in the South of France, 1966: Bassist John Lamb Looks Back on the Day

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  • Marcel Garbi

    imho he sounds like a teacher obliged to teach something he doesn’t want to

  • Wayne Robbins

    There was only one Monk and one Duke, but millions of people who didn’t and don’t understand them, their genius and the incredible complex of black culture underpinning them.