Thelonious Monk at 94. Goddamn! Time stops for know one. It sure as hell wasn't kind to him. But timelessness is as timelessness does and so I sit here at Winter Garden (in the World Financial Center) celebrating this generation's interpretation of music that does not age. Ever.
Monk's a foundational pillar on which the future of Jazz continues to be built, torn down and built again.
Monk is bedrock. Monk is bone and marrow. Monk is the trunk of a tree that can't be unrooted.
When I need to be reminded of why it is who it is I am, I turn to - among others - Monk (and Ellington and Mingus).
I could take a hackneyed stab at describing how Monk inexplicably tampered with the DNA of Jazz's rhythmic and melodic forms in a way that even the lamest improvisation can't kill (although the jazz harpist Edmar Castaneda, talented though he is, came close) but I won't.
Instead I'll implore you to seek out his music and I'll leave you with the words of a Monk acolyte (the finest in a tiny lineage who got it "right") and one of my heros, the late soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy:
"Monk left us: rhythmic messages, song, quality dreams, games, things to say, things to play, pictures dates lines structure licks insides outsides points details surfaces, parallels rhymes jokes silences, spaces blocks locks melodies, bits harmonies joints corners, edges wedges hedges, bounds rebounds sounds, shocks shapes places faces, traces shadows and lights darkness, fun sadness beauty, ugly duty booty, bounty rich reward, dense intense, research dance trance, spell dwellings bells tellings, smells shells swells, pearls diamonds silver gold rubies ice, hot and cold and old, new time bold schemes, geometry and precision, concision division revision decision, mission, accomplishment, goal, death, redemption, indoctrination, fulfillment."