Transcript of Lorraine Gordon on Thelonious Monk

HOST MARK RUFFIN: Now, a Jazz Moment.

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Before anyone knew who pianist Thelonious Monk was, NEA Jazz Master Lorraine Gordon was singing his praises. One summer day, she walked right up to the owner of the Village Vanguard, Max Gordon -- a man she didn't even know but would later marry.

LORRAINE GORDON: I said, “You know, there’s a great artist. You ought to hear him.” I just went up to him cold. Well that was easy to do in the summer, and he’s nice and I’m nice and he says, “Sit down, tell me all about it.” He said, “I just happen to have some room in September.” Great! I booked him. I didn’t even know I was a booking agent now.

MARK RUFFIN: But Max Gordon didn't take to Monk's quirky onstage presence.

LORRAINE GORDON: Thelonious plays and then he gets up from the piano and dances his little dance, a little jig around the piano. Then sits down and right on the beat. And then that song is over and then he gets up and says, “And now human beings, I’m going to play!” Max called me over, he says, “Listen, what kind of an announcement is that?” I said, “Mr. Gordon, you don’t understand. The man is a genius. Why don’t you listen?”

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MARK RUFFIN: This Jazz Moment with the 2013 A.B. Spellman Jazz Advocate, Lorraine Gordon, was produced by the National Endowment for the Arts.