Monk Alone: A Private Recital
In the fall of 1969, the great French bebop pianist Henri Renaud brought Thelonious Monk into a television studio in Paris. Just Monk, a grand piano and two cameras - no audience, no sidemen, no emcee, no clock-watching stage manager, no set list, no distractions. The result was an astonishingly intimate and revealing portrait of a man and his music. Monk sits at the piano and plays whatever occurs to him. In this case, it was nine originals and two of his favorite standards.
Interestingly, the originals range from some of his best known works like Epistrophy and 'Round Midnight to recent compositions like Ugly Beauty to real rareties like Comin' On The Hudson and Dreamland. The freedom of playing unaccompanied allows Monk to give each composition fascinating new twists and variations. The camera focuses as much on Monk's eyes as it does on his hands. The viewer can virtually see the usually impenetrable artist thinking in real time. An extraordinary document of one of the most original composers of the 20th century, Thelonious Monk.