Monk's 'Gap'

  During the 1950s Miles Davis continued to make an impact; in fact, he had never stopped asserting himself as one of the major voices of bebop since Birth of the Cool.In contrast, pianist-composer Thelonious Monk, a master improviser, remained little understood.

  On 24 December 1954 the two came together in a recording studio. Davis had a hard time falling in with Monk's strange harmonies, and finally he told the piano player to be quite during his solos, preferring to rely solely on the double bass, which provided him to more space.

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Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Gigi Gryce, and Max Roach (1954)

  Was what happened on the second take of 'The Man I Love' due to Thelonious Monk's frustration?
His solo began as they so often did, with an elongated deconstruction of the theme, in this case by George Gershwin. Then the rhythmic shifts and unexpected dissonances multiplied, so much so that listeners have the feeling of a staircase giving way beneath their feet. Suddenly, a long silence set in: Monk stopped playing. Losing patience, Miles Davis started playing his trumpet to fill the void - upon which the pianist, coming out of his torpor, immediately threw himself on the keyboard to take the floor again.

  Much has been said about this 'gap' of Monk's though no one knows precisely what happened between the two men. However, the incident does illuminate these fundamental figures of bebop.
Thelonious Monk, a misunderstood modern hermit, threw his harmonies on the piano the way one throws a match on an explosive. Each new combination seemed to plunge him into intense thought, out of which the next harmonies would emerge. he died in 1982, after a silence of the years, and yet his compositions are among the most frequently played today. The eccentricity of his playing has remained a touch point for reach new generation breaking with the conventions of the moment.

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Thelonious Monk

  Thelonious Monk was not the first pianist condemned to silence during Miles Davis' solos. The way in which Davis distributed the roles and the order of instrumental entrances in his pieces came strange out of the theatre. He managed the time constraints of a long-playing record as a true director, multiplying the internal arrangements or modifying the atmosphere with his mute. He never hesitated to have the lights in a studio turned off to put his musicians in a particular mood. Whether he was with the arrangers of Birth of the Cool or the young musicians of his quintet, Miles was always a great dramatist.

  These many enrichment of the early material of bop among black and white musicians ensured that, despite Charlie Parker's death in 1955, there would be a definite future for this music. It would be relaunched with hard bop.


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