PASSing on Monk- Birthday Special


Jazz saxophonist Steve Lacy was a diehard follower of Thelonious Monk. He wasn’t just a fan, either; Lacy became known for his recorded renditions of Monk tunes and later played in Monk’s band of the early ’60s.

When the master spoke, Lacy listened — and even wrote down Monk’s words of wisdom.

Stay with us here, because another great saxophonist and music educator, Jamey Aebersold, recently shared some of Lacy’s handwritten notes with the good folks at Steve Maxwell Drums, who in turn posted the notes on their website.

And we now share some favorites with you. We found the following seven bits of Monk wisdom particularly ageless and profound.

1. “Stop playing all those weird notes. Play the melody.”

2. “Don’t play the piano part, I’m playing that.”

3. “The inside of a tune (the bridge) is the part that makes the
outside sound good.”

4. “Don’t play everything or every time; let some things go by.”

5. “Stay in shape! Sometimes a musician waits for a gig and when it
comes, he’s out of shape and can’t make the gig.”

6. “Don’t sound [sic] anybody for a gig. Just be on the scene.”

7. “Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time.”


No deadly sin, but our favorite: “You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig?”


  1. Melodius Thunk: It must always be night, otherwise they wouldn’t need the lights.

    - PASS


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