Oct. 10, 1917 – Pianist and composer Thelonious Monk born

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Jazz music would not be the same without pianist and composer Thelonious Sphere Monk. Monk was born on Oct. 10, 1917 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and relocated with his family to Manhattan in 1922, where he began playing the piano at the age of six. He is recognized as one of the pioneers of jazz and architects of bebop.

Monk was a music enthusiast who was both self- and institutionally trained, having spent time studying at Juilliard School of Music. His ear for music and talent was so undeniable that by the age of 13 he had won the weekly amateur contest at the Apollo Theater so many times that he was barred from entering anymore.

When he was 19, Monk joined Milton’s Playhouse in Harlem; and in a collaborative effort with musicians, including Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, he helped found bebop, a modern style jazz. It was set off by the swing movement, which provided a more upbeat tempo than traditional jazz. 

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