Performance notes by Anders Svanoe
On September 16th we’ll be playing “I Mean You” by Thelonious Monk. Monk tunes are catchy, very unique and can be very easy, or difficult to play. Piano players, in particular, like to play Monk tunes, so it’s important to know a handful of his tunes. I also consider Monk to be one of the most important jazz composers of the 20th century and it is always a good idea to study these people.
The tune is 32 bar AABA with a little 4 bar intro and outro. Things to watch are:
- The counting (on the melody) on the last bar of the intro and coming in on the and of 4 leading into the first A section.
- Rhythm section can imply hits on 2 and 4 for the A sections and swings as normal on the bridge.
- Harmonically watch bars 3 and 4 in the A sections and try to make a smooth transition between those two chords that are a half step apart. Don’t feel that you need to play something in both measures, just pick one or the other, or if you decide to play both, play something logical in the first chord and repeat it in the next.
The original of this tune came off of the record “The Genius of Thelonious Monk Vol. 1” with Milt Jackson on vibraphone. If you want to hear versions with horn players, 5 by Monk by 5 features tenor saxophonist, Charlie Rouse and Thad Jones on cornet. There is also a 1957 Art Blakey Jazz Messengers version (with Monk) featuring Johnny Griffin on tenor and Bill Hardman on trumpet. Tempos can vary on this tune from a slower walking tempo to medium up. Here’s a version with Charlie Rouse on tenor.