Third Story

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.

HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Monk’s Mood

Steve Lacy, undisputed sultan of the soprano sax, played with some of the greatest jazz composers who ever lived. He sat with the likes of Charles Mingus, Herbie Nichols and Duke Ellington. His most celebrated contributions to the world of jazz, however, took place under the watchful shades of Mr. Thelonious Monk.

Below are a handful of gems from the scrawled notes in Steve’s notebook under the heading ‘Monk’s Advice (1968)’. The pithy remarks have relevance across all creative work — whether at the keyboard of a Bösendorfer or a Macbook Pro.

1. Just because you’re not a drummer doesn’t mean that you don’t have to keep time.

2. You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig?

3. Don’t play everything (or every time); let some things go by… what you don’t play can be more important than what you do play.

4. When you’re swinging, swing some more!

5. (What should we wear tonight?) Sharp as possible!

6. A genius is the one most like himself.

7. Stop playing all that bullshit, play the melody!

8. Always leave them wanting more.

Thanks to Hope for sending this along

Gerd Arntz

Gerd Arntz was a German modernist who created over 500 icons, or isotypes, with the ambitious goal of clear communication to the illiterate masses, newly liberated by socialism. In collaboration with Otto Neurath, they strove ‘to overcome barriers of language and culture, and to be universally understood’ to facilitate the communist revolution. Not exactly my politics, but the man was a master semiotician.

They have a wonderfully curated collection over at the Gerd Arntz Web Archive.