Monkath to celebrate Thelonious Monk’s centenary

Jazz man’s entire repertoire to be performed across Birmingham.

A nine-day festival encompassing the entire output of Thelonious Monk will take place in Birmingham between 12th-20th June to celebrate the centenary of the master jazz musician. Organised by Birmingham Conservatoire’s Jazz Department, Monkathon will see all seventy of Monk’s compositions performed at venues across the city by groups, soloists and internationally-renowned guest artists.

Dr Hans Koller, Senior Lecturer at Birmingham Conservatoire, says, “Thelonious Monk is one of the 20th century giants of music, not just of jazz. His art transcends boundaries of time, style and aesthetics. Monk at 100 is a wonderful excuse to celebrate his status as an iconic figure of inspiration to us all. The Birmingham Monkathon brings together students, alumni and staff at BCU, with leading international Monk-inspired performers including Steve Cardenas from New York, Liam Noble from the UK, and Professor François Théberge from Paris Conservatoire, as well as the eminent Monk biographer Professor Robin Kelley, for this grand celebration. In addition, we have international students, outreach programmes, and many gigs across the city.”

Highlights include performances by Steve Cardenas with Martin Speake, Hans Koller (pictured above), Calum Gourlay and James Maddren, Jump Monk with the Arnie Somogyi Small Band, and the Birmingham Jazz Orchestra in original and re-worked compositions of Monk plus brand new arrangements by special guest Trish Clowes. There’s also the chance to hear exciting arrangements of Monk’s early Blue Note recordings from senior students, adjudicated by Steve Cardenas, and a keynote speech by Monk biographer Professor Robin Kelley, Chair of the Department of African American Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Liam Noble’s small group’s gig also forms part of the Conservatoire’s two-day CODA marathon of new music, marking the very last events to be held in its Paradise Place buildings.

Italian conservatoire students from Verona, Milan, Bologna and Palermo will be visiting Birmingham to participate in Monkathon and four schools in Birmingham and the local area will be treated to outreach concerts featuring some of the small bands.

American composer and pianist Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) is one of most recorded jazz artists in history who contributed many jazz standards to the repertoire including Straight, No Chaser, Blue Monk and Round Midnight. He was particularly known for his individual approach to composition and distinctive stage presence, making him a unique and influential musician.

Monkathon takes place from 12th-20th June 2017 at venues throughout the city, including the Spotted Dog, The Red Lion, CBSO Centre and Birmingham Conservatoire. Further information here