On April 22, 2009, The Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz presented The Blues and Jazz: Two American Classics. Bringing together master artists and NOCCA students, the Monk Institute presented Antonio Hart (above left at piano), Guitar Slim, Jr., Lisa Henry, Richard Johnson, Derek Nievergelt and Otis Brown, III, with remarks by T. S. Monk, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees (speaking above right).
“As soon as one culture is aware of another, there is an artistic sharing,” T. S. Monk, Jr. offered students in a wide ranging discussion. “People have always interacted musically. As artists we don’t discriminate, we’re looking for all sounds. Beethoven must have had huge ears.
The editing process is dictated by how much information you have taken in. As a kid you might collect 2,000 baseball cards. But as you learn more about the players, you start to edit your collection by who can really play. Same for great musicians. As you assimilate information, you learn what you like and what your strengths are. You are developing your own invisible bag of tricks, your reservoir.
When I was a young boy, there would be a knocking at the door. I’d open it and there would stand Miles. ‘Can you tell T Miles is here?’ he would ask. I’d go tell dad and he would have me show Miles to the kitchen. There was a piano in the kitchen and Rollins, Dizzy, Coltrane, Miles, all young guys at the time, would be there. The mantra I heard among them and my dad all the time was ‘play your own stuff.’ All of you have to recapture that idea. Develop your own mantra. It quells the fear. It is important for you all to support each other this way. Rollins, Dizzy, Coltrane, Miles, my dad, did that for each other. Don’t wait for me or Antonio to come here. Don’t wait for a teacher. Get into the habit of honesty. Honesty is about courage and you get it from each other.”