Other Sellers on Amazon
Thelonious Monk - Straight No Chaser
Deal of the Day: Save on inspirational titles from Affirm Films on Blu-ray, DVD, and in 4K
Enjoy great savings on inspirational favorites from Affirm Films. This offer is available while supplies last, and ends at 11:59:59 PM (PT) on August 30, 2016. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser highlights the life of one of the most extraordinary individuals in the history of jazz. Using precious film footage shot in the late 1930s of the great pianist and composer, this film provides a special opportunity to savor the work of this one-of-a-kind musical revolutionary.]]>
In post-World War II America, few cultural upheavals matched bebop for sheer exhilaration. Spawned by jazz musicians whose paydays typically came with larger swing ensembles, bop was as much bastard as stepchild, refining the technical ambitions of its parent while breaking free of swing's formalism to play fast and loose with harmony, melody, and tempo. That mercurial spirit made heroes of high-flying, technically flamboyant players like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bud Powell. Monk, by contrast, was as distinctive for his silences, crafting often skeletal melodies distinguished by unexpected, skewed harmonies. At one point dubbed the "high priest of bebop," he was more Zen archer, threading notes, warping chord structure, or stabbing "wrong" keys with a seeming looseness that in hindsight sounds as precise as haiku.
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser provides an intelligent portrait of this often reclusive, sometimes difficult artist, including telling glimpses of his volatility. A stormy studio session with Teo Macero, then Columbia Records' preeminent jazz producer, speaks volumes about Monk's very private approach to his muse. Perceptive interviews and glimpses of Monk's sunnier moments provide added depth, yet the real triumph is the generous catalog of classic Monk songs captured on camera. --Sam Sutherland
Top Customer Reviews
And the music collected in the movie is astonishing--An early television appearance where Monk is miffed by Count Basie staring at him across the piano during a performance...several shows with a quartet including Charlie Rouse...great footage of the big band sessions of the mid 60s, with Rouse, Johnny Griffin, and Phil Woods scrambling to learn the arrangements...and the great Columbia session, where Monk becomes visibly annoyed, but still has time for a wonderfully tender moment with pal Teo. There are interviews with Monk's managers, his son, Charlie Rouse, and a fine piano duet of "Well You Needn't" by Tommy Flanagan and Barry Harris, reminding one and all that not only was Monk one of the most distinctive piano players in jazz, but that, along with Ellington and Charles Mingus, he was one of the most brilliant composers as well.
The excitement and sense of discovery one feels in witnessing this precious footage does become tempered by the lack of insight into the nature of his music and the full impact of it upon other musicians. The interviews are revealing, especially Harry Colomby (Monk's manager) and a visibly emotional TS Monk Jr. who with understandable difficulty recalls his father's mental problems. Ultimately though, the uniqueness of Thelonious Monk's music shines through. His television performance of "Just A Gigolo" about half way through is inspiringly honest, utterly sincere (even in it's sardonic humour) and completely absorbing.
Monk's most lasting musical legacy was probably his honesty as a musician and as a man, the rarest quality of all.
Thelonious Sphere Monk (1917-1982) is generally credited with inventing what we call be-bop, that fiery brand of jazz that emerged post WW II with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and others. Be-bop sounded the death-knell of big band/swing like Glenn Miller and Woody Herman. Monk was there at the forefront although it would be years before he garnered the acceptance or credit he deserved. Bouts with mental illness also hampered Monk from time to time. He was hospitalized numerous times.
This DVD compiles FASCINATING black and white footage of Monk during his 1968 tour. We see Monk smoking, Monk talking and laughing, Monk recording, Monk yelling at Teo Macero ("Why can't nobody do what I tell 'em to do!" an exasperated Monk yells after learning that Macero-in the control booth-failed to record the song the group had just finished), Monk with his wife Nellie, Monk on the street, getting dressed, spinning in circles etc. This is truly amazing footage folks. If only we had such a visual document for every great jazz artist.
The dialogue is very interesting. Monk himself is often hard to understand, his words often seem to run together. But I was able to understand enough. There are interviews with musicians and managers and others. It is great to see Monk's main saxophonist, Charlie Rouse, commenting on his friend. In one of the highlights of the film we see Monk rehearsing his group prior to a London performance. It is awesome to watch Monk lead Rouse, Phil Woods, and Johnny Griffin (!) thru the chord and tempo changes. Wow.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Outstanding documentary. It's not cheap to buy new, so try to get one in vg or ex condition if you can.Published 2 months ago by Trochilus
wonderful documentary of a genius~ lots of music~!!! & footage of Monk...
funny, touching, thoroughly enjoyable... Read more
Every jazz fan should have this classic in his collection.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
"Straight: No Chaser" is a well-crafted and thoughtful documentary about the life and music of Thelonious Sphere Monk, an American original of jazz piano and composition. Read morePublished on February 27, 2014 by Douglas Groothuis
I sent this to my daughter as a gift and they loved it. Really learned a lot about Monk and appreciate his music even more.Published on October 31, 2013 by Cyd Anderson
Clint Eastwood's little known documentary about the life of jazz musician Thelonious Sphere Monk.
Though Monk was a musical genius, it is hard to avoid the feeling that... Read more
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Look for Similar Items by Category
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Arts & Entertainment
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Music Videos & Concerts
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Musicals
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Performing Arts
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Special Interests
- Movies & TV > Indie & Art House
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Documentary
- Movies & TV > Studio Specials > Warner Home Video > All Titles
- Movies & TV > Studio Specials > Warner Home Video > Documentary
- Movies & TV > Studio Specials > Warner Home Video > Musicals & Performing Arts
- Movies & TV > TV