Thelonius Sphere Monk III Talks Jazz in the Mainstream, International Jazz Day and More

By Ian Holubiak on Feb 27, 2015 06:28 PM EST
Thelonius Sphere Monk III Talks Jazz in the Mainstream, International Jazz Day and More Thelonious Monk speaks onstage during The Thelonius Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition and All Star Gala concert held at Dolby Theatre on November 9, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo : Michael Tran/Getty Images)

Thelonius Sphere Monk III has made a compelling argument for the entire genre of jazz. He feels that jazz can pedal it's way into the mainstream via the similar "bells and whistles" that make other forms of music inherently popular.

"Duke Ellington, The Dorsey Brothers, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald -- all were entertainers," he says in the Huffington Post, relating jazz musicians to distinct entertainers in history, probably the likes of Jim Morrison.

He continues, "They had a look. They put a face on their music."

And he's right. The heavyweights that are deeply rooted in jazz history maintained a certain efficacy, that is, they were able to coin a personality while perpetuating the true form of jazz. And as Monk cites, when jazz was forced into academia, it was a "diluted" version of it, which produced "miserably mediocre jazz musicians."

Perhaps this is true, but he also goes on to cite a statistic about how the International Jazz Day concert streamed online to about 1.2 billion people in 2013, and then 2.5 billion people in 2014.

Obviously, there's an inherent respect and allure to genre. But why is that at the cost of its popularity in a more major sense? The Grammys this year were a case in point for this argument.

A performance featuring Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Questlove and Herbie Hancock seemed to promote jazz. But the feature didn't allow Questlove or Herbie Hancock any kind of run or experimentation. Instead, John Mayer was given two solos while the jazz and soul heavyweights patiently played in the background.

Monk makes a solid point to the foundation of jazz in a changing American society. The landscape of music may have changed the façade but the techniques and practices are still very much the same--add appeal, something that is attractive like an "image" and perhaps jazz can transcend the ground its been forced to.

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TagsThelonius Sphere Monk III, Jazz, International Jazz Day, Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Questlove, Herbie Hancock, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, The Dorsey Brothers

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