Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Wednesday Coffeehouse: Theolonious Monk & Lenny Bruce

Welcome to the coffeehouse! Today we feature jazz pianist, Theolonious Sphere Monk, and the foremost comedian of the Beat Generation, Lenny Bruce.

Robin D. G. Kelley, Professor of Anthropology, African American Studies, and Jazz Studies at Columbia University, says of Theo Monk:

Today Thelonious Monk is widely accepted as a genuine master of American music. His compositions constitute the core of jazz repertory and are performed by artists from many different genres. He is the subject of award winning documentaries, biographies and scholarly studies, prime time television tributes, and he even has an Institute created in his name. The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz was created to promote jazz education and to train and encourage new generations of musicians. It is a fitting tribute to an artist who was always willing to share his musical knowledge with others but expected originality in return.

Lenny Bruce, like Theolonious Monk, was a trendsetter. He brought onto the stage a kind of humor that not been shared in public since before the Victorian age. David Skover writes:

Lenny Bruce's words had the power to provoke laughter and debate—as well as shock and outrage. It was the force of his voice that would place him on the wrong side of the law in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York

Lenny committed his life to telling the truth. But the truth he told infuriated those in power, and authorities in the largest, most progressive cities in the country worked effortlessy to put him in jail. To them, Lenny's words were filthy and depraved. But to his friends—the hip, the discontented, the fringe—his words were not only sharp and hilarious, they were a light in the dark to the repressed society of the early 1960's.

Please don’t be concerned about Lenny’s poem below, Psycopathia Sexualis; it is very tame.

We begin with a jazz set featuring Theolonious Monk. So grab a cuppa joe and jive to the beat.

Theolonious Monk
: April in Paris

Theolonious Monk: Introspection

Before Monk’s second set, allow me to introduce the foremost comedian of the Beat Generation, Mr. Lenny Bruce.

Lenny Bruce
: Psycopathia Sexualis

And now, back to the magic fingers of Theo Monk.

Theolonious Monk: Round Midnight

Theolonious Monk: Theolonious

Previous Coffeehouses featuring

Leonard Cohen

Bob Gibson & Bob Camp

The Kingston Trio

Carmen McRae, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Steve Allen, Dave Brubeck, Del Close & John Brent

Judy Collins & Arlo Guthrie

Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel

In case anyone is interested, all of the audios I post are from my own CDs.


  1. I used to love Lenny Bruce, precisely for the shock value of his humour. It set the stuffy establishment back on its heels...way to go!

  2. I am a huge Theolonious Monk fan - have been since my early teens - but hadn't listened in quite some time. Thanks for the flashback!

  3. Good coffee house! I have heard of Lenny Bruce but never heard him until today. And Monk is a neat jazz man. I also really like the Louisiana song you have on your sidebar.

    Thank you for all of it, Saintly Nick!

  4. I love Theolonius monk! I have seen him play a few times, as well!

  5. I had never heard Lenny Bruce before, so I enjoyed hearing about his weird marriages! ;-)

    Thanks for the nice, mid-week coffeehouse, Nick!

  6. I really enjoyed this coffeehouse!

  7. I have enjoyed wandering around your blog this evening. Anybody fond of both Obama and Leeonard Cohen is okay in my book. Even if he is a cat person!

    Edward and I shall return.

  8. I love Monk. I appreciate Lenny Bruce and what he did. Thanks for showcasing both of them today.

  9. Puss-in-Boots: Me too! You know, even at his most “shocking” attacks on social taboos, Lenny’s comedy was tamer than comedians such as Sarah Silverman today.

    Dana: Me, too! Monk has been a favorite of mine since I first became aware of his music back in the late ‘50s.

    Bobcat: Thank you! It is my pleasure to introduce you to Monk and Lenny. The song, Louisiana 1927, about flooding in Louisiana, is rather appropriate for today, I think.

  10. chica40208: Alex and I slept thru Tuesday post!

    Baba Doodlius: Thank you, my dear feathered friend!

    Jesse: Thank you! I appreciate your comment.

  11. Pamela Terry and Edward : Thank you for your visit and comment! You know, I haven’t always been a cat person ! That reminds me: I must write the two or three final chapters of The Muffin Saga.

  12. Squirl : Monk is cool, isn’t he? And Lenny Bruce was a real icon for freedom of speech.

  13. Nick, I appreciate your coffeehouse posts. They bring to me old friends and introduce me to new ones like Thelonious Monk.

  14. Cool tunes. I LOVE jazz!

  15. Как говорилось на коро сдавать ГИА. Подскажите, как выбрать обогатительные предметы. Остановила свой выбор на / биологии/ физике/ англ./беседазнании. Тяжело выбрать .Если что, я собираюсь в мед. ВУЗ, но ХИМИЮ не готова сдавать. Если кому интересно, то у меня 5.