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.