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The Story Is Told

Crepuscule With Nellie

'Crepuscule' - from the Middle French 'crepuscule' and the Latin 'crepusculum' - meaning 'Twilight'

Pianist Thelonious Monk's manager recalled: "I once spent the night at his house, and when I woke up, I saw Monk at the piano composing while the radio on top of the piano was blasting away, playing hillbilly music." Monk does not, however, work on a daily schedule. When he feels 'right' he will compose. He won't force himself. When he does work, as Dick Katz observes, "he works very hard, very intensely. He has a lot of fragments in his mind that he'll keep coming back to in the process of composition, and he's always especially concerned about getting the bridge (the 'inside', he calls it) for his songs. The inside, he insists, has to make you appreciate the outside."

'A few years ago, when Nellie (his wife) was quite sick, Monk began to release some of his worry in music, and worked doggedly at Crepuscule With Nellie, one of his most tender compositions. It took him a month before he worked out the 'inside' he felt was right ....'

'... Thelonious can be challenging in other ways than music. "I used to have a phobia," says Nellie, "about pictures or anything on a wall hanging just a little bit crooked. Thelonious cured me. He nailed a clock to the wall at a very slight angle, just enough to make me furious. We argued about it for two hours, but he wouldn't let me change it. Finally, I got used to it. Now anything can hang at any angle, and it doesn't bother me at all."

From The Jazz Life  by Nat Hentoff


Here is Monk with Ray Copeland (trumpet); Gigi Gryce (alto sax); John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax); Wilbur Ware (bass) and  Art Blakey (drums) and Crepuscule With Nellie.

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