Summer 2010

ARTS 615
Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus: The Cutting Edge of Jazz


06/28/2010 - 07/30/2010
Tuesday & Thursday 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM

Music Studios 301

Pianist Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) and bassist Charles Mingus (1922-1979) defined the cutting edge in jazz in the aftermath of the bebop movement in the 1940s. Both men had unique styles as players and both eventually became even better known for their composing and, in some circles, their personalities. Both created music that was influential yet controversial, being embraced heartily by some and rejected by others, before eventually being accepted into the jazz mainstream. Ultimately, their music and careers evolved quite differently.

In this course we will examine both musicians in depth. We will study their lives, their unusual personalities and, most of all, their music. We will explore the full trajectory of each man's career and development, learning about the elements that made up their styles as players, composers and bandleaders at different stages along the way. Along the way we will touch on the music of numerous other jazz legends with whom their paths crossed, such as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis. We will also put the contributions of Monk and Mingus into the broader context of jazz history, including an examination of how contemporary jazz has assimilated their innovations.

Sound recordings will be the primary source material for this course, with some video footage. At-home studies of recordings will include the compilation albums Ken Burns Jazz by Monk and The Very Best of Charles Mingus (which you may buy as CDs or digital downloads), as well as about 50 songs available online through ITunes (more information later in syllabus). We will also read the books Mingus: A Critical Biography by Brian Priestley and Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin Kelley, along with selected other excerpts and articles.

Required course work will include three comparative essays, a final project and weekly "reflections."

This course is open to auditors.

This course is offered during the 5 Week session; the deadline to withdraw and receive a tuition refund is Wednesday, June 30 at 5:00 pm.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
ARTS 615

Noah Baerman (B.Mus., M.M. Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University) is director of the Wesleyan jazz ensemble. He is also a jazz pianist who has recently released his fifth album, "Bliss." His best-known release is "Patch Kit," a trio album with Ben Riley and longtime Miles Davis associate Ron Carter. In March 2005 he was featured as a guest on the public radio program Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz. Alfred Publishing Company has released nine instructional books by Noah, most recently the Versatile Keyboardist, as well as a DVD, Beginning Jazz Keyboard. He is also a recent recipient of the Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation "New Works" grant. Click here for more information about Noah Baerman.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Brian Priestley, Mingus: A Critical Biography, (Da Capo Press)

Robin Kelley, Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, (Free Press)


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