VF Mix 127: Thelonious Monk by Mast





A tribute to the iconoclastic jazz pianist.

Mast is a collective of jazz musicians led my multi-instrumentalist Tim Conley. To mark the release of a new collaborative album of covers Thelonious Monk Sphere, released on World Galaxy earlier this year.

Listen to it now and read Conley’s introduction to Monk’s work below:

Thelonious Monk was such a complete musician. From the heavily syncopated rhythms and chromatic phrases of his improvising, to the unique harmonic and altered chord changes of his compositions and the duality of his beautiful yet jagged melodies. What made all of this contrast work was his strong individualism. I think what I take from him the most is to not only embrace and develop your own individual sound but trust it, even if other people don’t get it.

When I was starting to conceptualise Thelonious Sphere Monk, my Monk tribute album, I thought a lot about his life as a musician, his compositions, his piano style, and what all those things meant to me. I thought about how I wanted to embody and celebrate his body of work but also take it to a new place.

I didn’t want to just do another Thelonious Monk tribute album, which has been done a gazillion times before, but wanted to create something totally new that pushes boundaries and explores new sonic territories performed at a high level of musicianship, all with a Thelonious Monk palette to paint with, and this mix is another evolution in that process.

There is just so much material to choose from but I tried to pick, in my opinion, some of his pivotal tracks and collaborations with artists like John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Milt Jackson, and a few Monk covers I love including Paul Motion with Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano, Medeski, Martin and Wood, and my own.


MAST – Misterioso – Thelonious Sphere Monk (2018)
Thelonious Monk – Misterioso – Live from the It Club (1964)
Let’s Cool One(ft Makaya McCraven + Jonah Levine) – Thelonious Sphere Monk (2018)
Thelonious Monk – Epistrophy – Big Band and Quartet Live (1963)
MAST – Epistrophy – Thelonious Sphere Monk (2018)
Miles Davis – Bemsha Swing – Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants (1959)
Medeski, Martin and Wood – Bemsha Swing/Lively Up Yourself – It’s a Jungle In Here (1993)
Thelonious Monk – Ruby, My Dear – Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane (1961)
Paul Motion – Bye-ya – Monk in Motion (1988)
Well You Needn’t (ft Chris Speed) – Thelonious Sphere Monk (2018)
Round Midnight – Thelonious Monk – Monk Alone (1968)
Thelonious Monk – Evidence – Big Band and Quartet Live (1963)
Mast – Evidence – Thelonious Sphere Monk (2018)
Thelonious Monk – Trinkle Tinkle – Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane (1961)
Mast – Trinkle Tinkle – Thelonious Sphere Monk (2018)

Mast presents Thelonious Sphere at Jazz Cafe on 17th May. Grab your tickets here.