“‘Round Midnight” is a 1944 jazz standard by pianist Thelonious Monk. Thelonious Sphere Monk (1917-1982) was one of the giants of jazz, and one of the most unusual. As Monk’s Wikipedia entry notes, “His compositions and improvisations are full of dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists, and are consistent with Monk’s unorthodox approach to the piano, which combined a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of silences and hesitations. This was not a style universally appreciated; poet and jazz critic Philip Larkin dismissed Monk as ‘the elephant on the keyboard.'” But this elephant, and his music, could dance — “at times, while the other musicians in the band continued playing, he would stop, stand up from the keyboard and dance for a few moments before returning to the piano” — and Larkin, a famous curmudgeon who disliked all jazz once bebop sprang on the scene around 1940, apparently just couldn’t appreciate the intricate strangeness of Monk’s elephantine beauty. Oh well, to each his own.
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