Thelonious Monk at the piano, 1962.
Credits: Photo by Don Hunstein ęSony Collectibles. All rights reserved.
Bebop founder and immaculately hip sartorial icon Thelonious Monk was revered for his complex improvisations as well as his indelible compositions, including pieces like "Blue Monk" and "Round Midnight" which have become cornerstones of the standard jazz repertoire of the 20th century. His idiosyncratic persona--crisp knife-sharp suits, pork-pie hats, sunglasses-at-night--provided the perfect visual analog to his musical syncopation, percussive improv and judicious use of rests, pauses and dramatic silence in his music. Don Hunstein's iconic November, 1962 portrait of Monk at the keys--his right hand a blur of inspiration, his left a calm fundamental rock--captures the complexity and paradox of Monk and his music in a photographic silhouette, the absence of concrete detail conveying a multiplicity of soul and information.