Jazz visionary Thelonious Monk was a musical maverick whose artistry and originality as a composer and pianist earned him a permanent place in jazz history.
Monk hit his stride as a musician, composer and jazz celebrity between the mid-50s and and mid-60s after more than two decades of comparative obscurity.
Monk's most famous composition is "Round Midnight," which has become a jazz standard. Other standards created by Monk include "Misterioso," "Ruby My Dear," "Epistrophy" and "Blue Monk."
Monk began playing piano by ear at age 6 and took a few formal lessons a few years later but was largely self-taught. In the musically ripe days before World War II, Monk played in the house band at Milton's in Harlem, where such musicians as Parker, Christian, Gillespie, Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke often sat in.
Although he worked as a sideman with the bands of Lucky Millander, Gillespie and Coleman Hawkins, he performed mainly with his own trios or small combos.
Neglected for many years, he began to come into his own on 52nd Street as composer, pianist and leader in the 1950s. By the mid 1960s Monk was an international jazz star with a cult following.