Issue 29: Tony Baker

A note can be as small as a pin

or as big as the world

                            (for another Monk)


When he toured four months

in 1960 with Monk mumbling

sometimes advice dark-whim-

wise & as clunky as he was

inimitable, Steve Lacy noted

whatever he said he thought

he heard was good for, as, eighth

on the list       "always know.... 

( Monk )"  with an arrow arced

over to flip his name so M

made W would read back:

know.  And when Johnny

Griffin deciphering an un-

readable score hand-

writ asked Monk once

"what note's this?") Thel-

onious (n.

b. with


o's) didn't, after


at the page,

know either, said, barely

a consonant in his mouth,

"play whatever you hear",

which he (Griffin) took

on hearsay

& blew it might have been

Epistrophy into god

knows what shape with

Monk's mute foot-stamp

stamping syncopes rampant

in the gaps. Say

what you like, but no-

one had to know

what epis-

trophy at


moment meant.






My memory may be faulty and the story about Johnny Griffin may actually concern Charlie Rouse – the footage is contained in a documentary on Monk and I forget which. Griffin gets it because I hear French spoken every day and griffe = claw in translation. Which of course is no good reason but then what do I know ?.


[Tony Baker has lived in France for nearly three decades, working primarily as a musician. He has published books with Reality Street, West House, Pig Press and, more recently, work in an assemblage made by Peter Riley for Shearsman.]

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