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Django Reinhardt’s music was a familiar Sunday morning childhood memory. Phil Elwood started of his Sunday morning Jazz program on KPFA with Django’s ‘Montmartre’ and his voice cut in over Django’s raised 5th tremelo (E in Ab) intro to his solo.
These 2 ‘outside' voices, following their own path, have showed me all I know about the importance of finding one’s own personal voice.
Then in 1963 I went to the Monterey Jazz Festival on a Sunday afternoon to a show titled 'Monk and Mingus at Monterey,' and experienced the great dancing bear of a man that was Monk with his quartet including Charlie Rouse on tenor. The humor, ever-present in his music, was belied by an amazing depth in his understanding of space and time in a way that Einstein could only dream of. Even after Charlie Mingus came out and closed the show with his Big Band, and the amazing and timely composition “Meditations on Integration,” it was the delicate creations of Monk that stayed with me.
And as I grow older now, and find myself needing to retrace my path here, I find the strange, personal expressions of Mysterious Thelonious a key to opening my own, personal self-expression. Retracing the Evidence, the silences and careful deliberation of each sonic event in Monk’s playing and composing, give maximum room to a player to find his or her own voice in the music. Some insist on the exact changes Monk played. And certainly, in Monk’s own playing every note is carefully placed. But this is jazz, and each player must find his own way. Monk’s plays his own thoughts. They are his way, but he is gone. Monk's compositions have left us a vehicle for undertaking our own journey.
After a year of working around a broken finger, finding my own voice once more begins by rediscovering and believing in my own journey. DjangoSphere — the music of Monk and Django, is the first step. The opportunity to begin the exploration with guitarist, Howard Alden, a master of his own voice, is more than an honor, it is a new beginning for this fiddle player in his 7th decade finding his way to the final destiny we all share. May the path be long and FULL of music!
by Kit Eakle, jazz violinist and Point Richmond Jazz founder
What IS a DjangoSphere?
Thelonious Sphere Monk made a huge impression on me as a youth. I listened intently to his music after being introduced to him by an art student of my father’s who left his jazz collection at our house in 1961, including ‘Solo Monk,’ and ’Monk Alone in San Francisco.’ I wore out the grooves.