Thelonious Monk tipped hat to state with ‘Carolina Moon’

“My father was an AME Zion minister in Badin, North Carolina, and the Albemarle area, and one of the reasons I was so drawn to [Thelonious] Monk’s music was because I recognized right away that all of his rhythms were church rhythms. It was very familiar to me. Monk’s brand of swing came straight out of the church. You didn’t just tap your foot, you move your whole body.

“We recorded ‘Carolina Moon’ [in 1952] as a tribute to our home state, with Max Roach on drums. Max was from Scotland Neck.”

— Band member Lou Donaldson, quoted by Sam Stephenson in “Thelonious Monk: Is This Home?” in the Oxford American (Fall 2007)

Even though Benny Davis, who co-wrote “Carolina Moon” in 1924, denied its connection to North Carolina, Monk’s rendition surely deserves a genealogy of its own.


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