Monk Tunes-Guitar

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  1. JtV

    I have been into (some might say obsessed) with playing Monk tunes lately. I don't know about everyone else hear, but they just have this knack for getting you in a place where you just play differently. I was curious, however, in how everyone hear might approach a tune like Epistrophy?


  2. Sandemose

    I wouldnt. I sound like crap on Monk tunes. I love hearing Monk play and other play his tunes though.



  3. Quintricacy

    I love monks tunes. In college we had an 8 week monk ensemble class which was amazing. I think that when you play monk tunes you should always relate to the melody in your solos. Monk does that all the time in his improvisation also as soon as I play a monk tune. I generally try and play in a kind of Bill Frisell kind of style. I think Frisell's way of playing really compliments Monk style tunes. Also Peter Bernstein does some pretty good Monk things, here he is playing We See with the Brad Mehldau Trio, his solo is so anti virtuosic and really stays true to the whole Monk aesthetic. Unfortunately, I've never played Epistrophy so I can't shed any light on that.

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  4. For this imaginary compilation I've collected Monk tunes performed in a latin .... the Lennon-McCartney songbook, or add an electric guitar to his line-up.

  5. zhdason

    I love Monk tunes, although how to play on one always eludes me, and, as Sandemose says, I sound like crap on them. Although, I generally sound like crap on any jazz tune, but I still enjoy trying to play them anyway. I just wouldn't subject anyone else to it.

    One of my favorites to play though is "Ruby, My Dear."

  6. silverwater

    I recall having been told that Monk didn't write Epistrophy for people to solo over (but Coltrane did it anyway).

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  7. monk tunes are so great. i have listened to certain recordings a lot on my own and had a job where everyone found the monk playlist totally great , acceptable and long enough to walk over to the ipod to choose things again.
    so, before attempting to learn them i can say that they are really in my head/ear already. i fell in love with so many tunes of his that i felt totally fine throwing down to get the thelonious monk fake book ( 60+ monk tunes with sites the recordings that the arrangement is based on). a very clear cut and well presented book.
    i find monks changes hard to memorize because there are in several instances II V's that move next door and/or get swapped out at the tritone then resume some back cycle-ish motion and navigate like this often at fast tempos. even if i learn these tunes it feels hard to have something to say on them. i have been working on monk and bach when i'm not working out my own stuff or doing technical/guitar specific things ...( with the time i have to play guitar).

    four in one
    trinkle tinkle
    ruby my dear
    are the ones i've been working on.
    as far as epistrophy, i havent spent too much time on it but immediately i enjoyed playing the a section on the higher 4 strings (holding it as a chord and letting the notes ring out- like 2 sets of seconds a 6th apart).
    the forms and changes are challenging. the melodies and amazing. the more i check him out and really try to imagine hearing this music live at that moment and honestly listen, the more i get to see how masterful he is/was. i feel like when i was younger i just thought he was a cooky weirdo who had a funny jagged spaces and a huge sense of humor...essentiallyi didnt take him seriously. watching documentaries showcase didnt help in that regard either. i couldnt handle (what felt like a certain awkwardness )... i preferred to hear monk tunes played by anyone but monk!
    (speaking of which, steve lacy has great versions of his stuff on various labels- there is a great disc { i believe french label giants of jazz - mal waldron , elvin jones,don cherry and wilbur ware! doing monk and ellington tunes. and reflections with elvin and i forget who else. they do reflections so amazingly -it is impossible to have a shitty day after hearing that or skippy off that album). monk has an extrememely compelling and wholly personal and instantly recognizable thing. there is something very intimate tender and revealing in ballads and fierceness humor and a conviction to stick to what and how he is thinking to get himself in and out of situations.
    negotiating how to play this stuff on guitar is a struggle ( i've figured things out and then near the end changed positions/ fingerings to try to better represent the jist of the idea more completely) but as usual when working on piano or horn stuff its super rewarding. its a way to actually simultaneously use and do away with guitar minutae... the tune and the piano dont care about my "guitar issues".

  8. ... i meant to say that off the album reflections the tunes four in one and skippy make it impossible to have a shitty day.

  9. Quintricacy

    As I said before, use fragments of the melody as the basis of your solo. If you hear Monk comping Blue Monk and then Straight No Chaser, he comps differently for each one. Why? Because the melodies are different, Monk is always relating to the melody be it by comping or soloing.


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