Transcript from Jimmy Owens on Monk

Reflections hot, under

Jimmy Owens:I’m Jimmy Owens, trumpeter, flugelhornist, composer, arranger, educator and jazz activist. Describing Monk is difficult because he was such an original person when it came to his piano playing, his compositions, and his whole human demeanor. He did things that were out of the ordinary that most people wouldn’t do, like his little Monk dance on the stage.

“Well You Needn’t” up and under

You really have to see some of the video that is there to see how he functioned. Monk would move around, twirl, move his arms, elbows, go around in circles.

“Well You Needn’t” up again, and under

Thelonious Monk's music, that is the most important thing. The person who wrote that music that’s important, but what stands now are his compositions. And what I tried to do with my "Monk Project" was to take those compositions that many musicians had performed and give a little different approach if possible to how we would perform those compositions. To put the album together, the first thing I thought of, the types of songs that Thelonious Monk had composed that I would like to perform, I would like to record. And I made a list of songs for myself, oh about 20 songs. So a song like "Blue Monk", a song like "Well You Needn't," "Epistrophy," that's in our repertoire. And then I started to think of the musicians who could interpret that music with the kind of excitement that I wanted to have happen when I would record those songs. And I honed it down to this sized group, which is piano, bass, and drums, trumpet, myself, trombone, tenor saxophone, and I decided to use my friend Howard Johnson playing tuba and baritone saxophone, so each of the musicians were hand-picked for their skill level at performing and I knew that they could turn out a stellar performance of this music. You know, Duke Ellington has always said you can't write for the trumpet or the trombone or the saxophone, you have to write for individuals.


I think first comes Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn and then comes Thelonious Monk and then all others come after him, you know. We have Benny Golson and Horace Silver and Randy Weston, many of those people are NEA Jazz Masters. Whenever jazz musicians perform they would perform some of his Monk’s compositions, like they would do of Duke Ellington’s, you know. So he was a very very important composer to most jazz artists.

Music Credit: Excerpt of "Reflections” and “Well You Needn’t” from the cd, The Monk Project, composed by Thelonious Monk and performed by Jimmy Owens and his band, used courtesy of Jimmy Owens and IPO Recordings. Reflections used by permission of Thelonious Music Corp. and Well You Needn’t used by permission of Sunflower Entertainment Group; ©1944 Regent Music Corp (BMI).