USC

Sherry Hour speaker discusses jazz artist Thelonius Monk

On November 11, 2011, Robin D. G. Kelley, until recently Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC (now at UCLA), was guest speaker at the Retired Faculty Association’s Sherry Hour. The format of this event is designed to encourage spontaneity, both on the part of the speaker and the audience. Professor Kelley amply demonstrated that he is a master of spontaneity.

He had been prepared to speak about the influence of American jazz on liberation movements in Africa. Members of audience, however, requested a change in topic. Aware of his prize-winning book, Thelonius Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (2009), they prevailed on him to talk about Monk instead. They were treated to a fascinating picture of how a talented musician, exposed to classical music over many years, emerged as one of the preeminent jazz composers and pianists of the twentieth century.

Professor Kelley promised to return next year to speak about jazz in revolutionary Africa.