Robin D.G. Kelley's book Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original is now out in paperback. This interview was originally broadcast on December 8, 2009.
Robin D.G. Kelley's newest book is Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original. In focusing on the career of the eccentric jazz pianist and composer, Kelley reveals new details about Monk's life, music and mental health problems, and provides a glimpse into the New York jazz scene of the mid-twentieth century.
Kelley's book traces Monk's music journey from childhood piano lessons to late night concerts in the Village and offers a behind-the-scenes view of historic recording sessions for classic albums like Brilliant Corners and Monk's Music.
Robin D.G. Kelley is a Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He is the author of many prize-winning cultural studies books such as Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression and Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination. His essays have appeared in The Nation, New York Times Magazine and Rolling Stone.