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- I don't know where it's going. Maybe it's going to hell. You can't make anything go anywhere. It just happens.
- When questioned as to the future of jazz, as quoted in Jet magazine (31 March 1960), p. 30
- Interviewer: What other interests do you have?
Monk: Life in general.
Interviewer: What do you do about it?
Monk: Keep breathing.
Interviewer: What do you think the purpose of life is?
Monk: To die.
- All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.
- Interview in Down Beat magazine (28 October 1971)
- Monk enters the studio and starts playing, the rest of the musicians join him. After few minutes of play the technician from his room shouts and stops the band.]
Monk: "Why did we stop?"
Technician: "I thought you were rehearsing."
Monk: "Aren't we always?"
- Thelonious Monk Documentary DVD.
Quotes about Monk
- Working with Monk brought me close to a musical architect of the highest order. I felt I learned from him in every way — through the senses, theoretically, technically. I would talk to Monk about musical problems, and he would sit at the piano and show me the answers just by playing them. I could watch him play and find out the things I wanted to know. Also, I could see a lot of things that I didn't know about at all.
- Working with Monk is like falling down a dark elevator shaft.
- John Coltrane, in "Coltrane on Coltrane" in Downbeat (29 September 1960)