French pianist Jacques Ponzio, the man behind the blog Amusements Philologiques (https://philomneste.blogspot.com/), fell in love with the music of Thelonious Monk in 1968 after watching the CBS documentary «Sound of Jazz». Two years later he saw monk plays live in Marseille and in 1995 he and François Postif co-wrote a biography of this inspiring, most enigmatic musician in the history of jazz, «Blue Monk: un Portrait de Thelonious» (Actes Sud), in which he openly expressed his addiction to the High Priest of Bebop, as a true «monkie».
Monk used silence as a major musical principle and his public image was of a man of silence. Ponzio stresses that Monk was actually quite talkative and an opinionated person when it comes to music and art et all. On the bi-lingual (English and French) «Thelonious MONK Abécédaire / AB C- Book» he compiled more than a hundred enlightening quotations of the late master, arranged like Zen haikus, compiled from previous biographies, essays and talks with and on Monk, including by sax player Steve Lacy and journalists Leonard Feather, Ira Gitler, Nat Hentoff. Many of these quotations still sound fresh and relevant to anyone who listens to jazz or music at all with open ears.
Here are some of these inspiring quotations:
«The only cats worth anything, are the cats that take chances».
«Composition is frozen improvisation» or «Improvisation is molten composition».
«What you don’t play can be more important than what you do».
«Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time».
What other interests do you have? «Life in General». What do you about it? «Keep breathing».
«There’s two kinds of mistakes. The regular kind, and those that sound bad» or «There are no wrong notes, some are just more right than others».
«A note can be small as a pin or as big as the world, it depends on your imagination».
«After two takes you’re imitating yourself».
«The loudest noise in the world is silence».
«Simple ain’t easy».
«Sometimes I play things i never heard myself».