on 20 April 1999
This book has gotten unjustified bad press. The author accurately captures the "real" T. Monk. She traces Monk's development and commitment to jazz over his career. The author had access to Monk's family (e.g., Toot his drummer son), friends, supporters, and the musicians that knew him. What I particularly like about the book was her treatment of Monk's mysterious pathology. Monk was a very strange guy. Various psychiatrists discounted him being schizophrenic and bipolar. The concensus was that he chemically ruined his brain over the years. He also cultivated an image of eccentricity. During the last six years of his life, he got up, put on a suit and tie (he was always sartorially snappy) and then laid in bed all day. This is a very good book and provided an insightful picture of this eccentric musical genius.
on 19 June 1998
Leslie Gourse and her team have done a book of merit, an investigation of true achievements, but one that lacks passion, and previous knowledge about the central theme: the life and music of Thelonious Monk. Nevertheless, this book is as close as one can get to the personal life of the high priest of bebop, but not to his musical perspectives. The author misses her point absolutly in avoiding a serious treatment of the music of one of the true geniuses of american music.