Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
In performance, Thelonius Monk’s semi-intentional habit of hitting the keys with a half-step harmony in either direction made for bracing listening, but his compositions, for their sheer infectiousness, are at least as compelling. To prove it, one day my jazz professor blasted “Straight, No Chaser,” then ordered us to sing it from memory. Few of us had heard it before, but after maybe one dry run we had the multifaceted riff down pat. You can hear Monk’s legacy in action as the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra performs “Monk’s Mood and Early Autumn: Thelonious Monk and Woody Herman,” covering both the music of Monk’s 1959 Town Hall concert (including “Off Minor,” “Crepuscule With Nellie,” and “Monk’s Mood”) and Herman’s hard-swinging jazz from 1948-49. One hour prior to each evening performance is a discussion with Thelonious Monk Jr. and writer A.B. Spellman. At 2 & 8 p.m. today and 2 & 7 p.m. Sunday at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. FREE. (202) 994-6800. (Louis Jacobson)