Lorraine Gordon on discovering Thelonious Monk
RUFFIN: NOW, A JAZZ MOMENT
"Blues Five Spot" under
MARK RUFFIN: 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.
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.
RUFFIN: BUT MAX GORDON DIDN'T TAKE TO MONK'S QUIRKY ON-STAGE PRESENCE.
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?"
Blues Five Spot up, hot, and under.
RUFFIN: THIS JAZZ MOMENT WITH THE 2013 AB SPELLMAN JAZZ ADVOCATE, LORRAINE GORDON, WAS PRODUCED BY THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS. I'M MARK RUFFIN.
MUSIC CREDIT: Excerpt of "Blues Five Spot" composed and performed by Thelonious Monk from Misterioso, used by courtesy of Concord Music Group and by permission of Thelonious Music Corp (BMI).