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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