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Always know – Monk at 100

Just before going on stage, Thelonious Monk would often deliver this particular piece of advice to his band: 'Don't forget, always know..'

This year is the centenary of Thelonious Monk's birth, and 'Always Know' is a piece for septet that will celebrate one of the great composers and jazz musicians of the 20th Century. When I was about 12 years old my father brought home a double LP featuring a selection of Monk's music. Since then I have listened to pretty much everything he ever recorded, formed bands dedicated to playing his compositions, and immersed myself in Monk's musical and personal world.

In writing this piece eight-part suite, thinking about what material I might use for inspiration, I decided to base the pieces on the various sayings contained in the 'Monk's Advice' document - a piece of handwritten A4 paper on which band member Steve Lacy jotted down the typically gnomic, yet brilliant things Monk would say to the band. Each piece is based on one of these sayings, and they have provided me with as much inspiration as they no doubt originally did for the original recipients. As Monk said, 'You've got to dig it, to dig it - you dig?'

- Ronan Guilfoyle

Matthew Berrill - alto/clarinet/bass clarinet
Sam Comerford - tenor/ flute
Paul Dunlea - trombone
Chris Guilfoyle - guitar
Greg Felton - piano
Ronan Guilfoyle - bass
Christophe Lavergne - drums

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