A Monastic Effort

Today, Thelonious Monk is regarded as one of jazz’s greatest minds—but it took a long time for him to get to that point.

Starting out in the 1930s and ’40s, Monk had a different style that didn’t quite fit the times. Influenced by stride piano traditionalists like James P. Johnson, it wasn’t long before he departed from tradition to create his own abstract sound. Largely rejected by audiences and critics, it was almost two decades before Monk was recognized for his unique contribution to jazz.