October 18, 2011
Words Of Wisdom...
by Chris Randall
In the early 60s, saxophonist Steve Lacey played with Monk briefly. This is kind of quasi-ironic, considering at the time he joined Monk's group, virtually all his recordings to that point had been of Monk tunes. Sort of a 60s jazz version of the movie "Rock Star," I guess. Anyhow, Monk was well known for dropping nuggets of science in an unending stream--as anyone who has seen "Straight, No Chaser" can attest--and Steve Lacy took the time to jot these nuggets down in a notebook. Pictured above are the two pages of that notebook where he wrote down all Monk's advice, and there are some real gems in there. Since it's kind of hard to read, I've transcribed them here:
1. Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time.
2. Pat your foot and sing the melody in your head when you play.
3. Stop playing all that bullshit / those weird notes. Play the melody!
4. Make the drummer sound good.
5. Discrimination is important.
6. You've got to dig it to dig it, you dig?
7. All reet!
8. Always know... (Monk)
9. It must be always night, otherwise they wouldn't need lights.
10. Let's lift the bandstand!!!
11. Avoid the hecklers.
12. Don't play the piano part. I'm playing that. Don't listen to me. I'm supposed to be accompanying you.
13. The inside of the tune (the bridge) is the part that makes the outside sound good.
14. Don't play everything (or every time). Let some things go by. (Always leave them wanting more.) Some music just imagined. What you don't play can be more important than what you do.)
15. A note can be small as a pin or as big as the world. It depends on your imagination.
16. Stay in shape! Sometimes a musician waits for a gig, and when it comes he's out of shape and can't make it.
17. When you're swinging, swing some more!
18. What should we wear tonight? SHARP AS POSSIBLE!
19. Don't sound anybody for a gig. Just be on the scene.
20. You've got it! If you don't want to play, tell a joke or dance, but in any case, you got it! (To a drummer who didn't want to solo.)
21. Whatever you think can't be done, somebody will come along and do it. A genius is the one most like himself.
22. They tried to get me to hate white people, but someone would always come along and spoil it.