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The Quora question and answer site has a good response to a question about Thelonious Monk:
What are those qualities, inherent in the sentimental ballads of Thelonious Monk, which touch the soul? Round Midnight, I Surrender Dear, Pannonica, et al, it's more than just the writing but the actual performance which gets me. What is that? Memory?
Mihai Iordache: I guess it's the performance versus the writing. It's soulful music delivered in the most unsentimental way, which creates a "tough guy with a gentle heart" thing that gets me every time...
My current Monk favorites performed by others:
- 'Round Midnight - Protosynthesis
- Bemsha Swing - Jim Hall Quartet
- Bemsha Swing - Dr. Lonnie Smith
- Let's Cool One - Fred Hersch
- Crepuscule with Nellie - Branford Marsalis
- Blue Monk - Dexter Gordon
But none of these begin to approach the playing of Monk himself.
“‘Blue Monk’ and ‘Well You Needn’t,’...are wonderful illustrations of bebop at its most joyous. ‘Blue Monk’ is Monk’s simplest, old-time blues melody (even New Orleans street bands play it). The main motive--a four-note chromatic rise in eighth notes--is the melodic springboard for several of Monk’s choruses.” JazzStandards