Movie Notes - Straight, No Chaser (Monk Documentary)

One of the first full-fledged jazz documentaries I saw back in the day was 1988's Straight, No Chaser, a black-and-white film I had to drive an hour to the Railroad Square Cinema to see.  I didn't have many jazz records in my collection of LPs, but I had three albums of Monk's (Solo Monk, Criss Cross, Mysterioso), and I'd just about worn out the others I found in the university's music library. Back then, it was a revelation for me to see Monk even-larger-than-larger-than-life on the screen.  The performances are brilliant, and I could tell that Monk was more than just an "eccentric genius" that he'd been marketed as all those years.  He was mentally ill, sick and going without proper treatment -- all the more sad to think how he and those around him suffered because of his struggles.  Current day biographers know the full picture of what was going on, of course.  Doesn't take much away from Charlotte Zwerin's film, though.

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