Nobody But Monk
By Mize Negrao
I slip away from my lover’s bed and run down the stone staircase, clinging to the 16th century guard rail, the haunting opening notes of Monk’s “Round Midnight” pursuing me like restless ghosts down the stairwell.
In my mind’s eye I see Thelonious' fingers running nimbly over the ivory and ebony keys, his typical, percussive phrasing, his harmonies and technique, so unique and inimitable, his beard flowing from his lower face, over his collar and suit front, as a plume of cigarette smoke pours slowly from his mouth, and rises to form a halo around his head, covered by a Dahomey skull cap.
“Nobody plays Monk like Monk”, I think, fleeing the welling up of emotions within my tortured heart, lost in every single solitary note of this composition, but the mellifluous melancholy of Petrucciani’s rendition of this tune, finds and possesses me so, that I have to lean against the dark yellow wall on the exterior of the building, to steady myself. I close my eyes and sigh, wiggling my toes and feet into the stilettos, the worst kind of shoes for Milano’s old cobbled streets and sidewalks. I attempt to walk away, pacing slowly, deliberately with every note of the song. as, its sweetness cascades from the open bedroom window above, pouring down onto the cobbled street below, swirling like sea water around my ankles, and I am riveted to the spot.
Monk! I’m caught in Monk’s Dream.
I am captivated by Monk’s Mood.
Words attempt but fail to describe what one hears when attaining knowing, when reaching the understanding of the silence between notes, when the beauty aroused within the heart surmounts one's ability to describe what is perceived and what one hears beyond the ears. Creation cannot be bound by ink or words.
I finally reach my vehicle. My soul emptied itself of me, of my every foible and folly. I heave a deep sigh, close the door gently and pop on Straight No Chaser.
Nobody plays Monk like Monk!
Mja (pronounced Maya) aka Mizé Negrão Principe is a "once upon a time" journalist, Human and Animal Rights Activist, Blues Singer and Corporate Internal Sales Manager in South Africa. Follow Mizé on Instagram @mjaprincipe