SFJAZZ.org | Music in Monk Time

On The Corner Masthead

Music in Monk Time:
A Lost Jazz Treasure REturns

June 7, 2021 | by Rusty Aceves

Detail from original theatrical poster

In a first-ever U.S. broadcast, SFJAZZ presents a rarely seen documentary and concert film that gives a precious glimpse into the life and music of jazz giant Thelonious Monk returns, 36 years after we presented its Bay Area premiere. Here are some details to get you ready for the show, broadcast 6/10 at 7PM PT and rebroadcast 6/13 at 6PM PT.

Conceived by producer Stephen Rice, executive produced by Paul C. Matthews III, and directed by John Goodhue, Music in Monk Time: A Retrospective Tribute to Thelonious Sphere Monk combines interview and performance footage of Monk’s classic compositions by his legendary associates Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae, and Milt Jackson, along with Monk quartet members Charlie Rouse, Ben Riley, and Larry Gales with Walter Davis, Jr. on piano.
Additionally, a big band featuring Terence Blanchard and Monk’s son, drummer TS Monk, recreates the famous 1959 Town Hall concert.

Dizzy Gillespie in Music in Monk Time

Written and narrated by iconic vocalist Jon Hendricks, the film balances these live performances with rare archival film footage of Monk and photos borrowed directly from his famous patron the Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, tracing Monk’s career through the decades.
We premiered the film to a sold-out crowd at the now-gone S.F. Video Gallery on March 8, 1985, and the film was televised throughout the world, however it has never been broadcast in the United States, making this the second time we’ve premiered this priceless document of jazz history.

"After nearly four decades, we are thrilled to bring this film back to jazz lovers in the United States - truly a twice in a lifetime event." — Paul C. Matthews III, Executive Producer, Music in Monk Time.

Here is journalist Jesse Hamlin's San Francisco Chronicle preview of the original Jazz in the City screening of the film in 1985:

And here are some critical reactions to the film:

"Thelonious Sphere Monk was one of the few real geniuses of American music. The film, Music in Monk Time captures that genius with a frequency and a communicative power rare for cinema in general, but particularly rare for that elusive blue-print of the American spirit we call jazz." — Stanley Crouch, Village Voice

"Surely the best jazz film in at least 25 years" — Leonard Feather, Los Angeles Times

“Wonderful! Monk and his artistic contributions certainly should be more known. This valuable and exciting document is a stunning celebration of his legacy!” — Chick Corea

"One of the greatest jazz films ever made" — James Liska, Los Angeles Daily News

“Music in Monk Time is a great piece of work — essential viewing and listening” — Phillip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner

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