Letter to the editor

Issue June 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen:

My sincerest compliments to Robert Holloway Jr., for expertly weaving together the stories of two iconic figures in American literature and music - Kurt Vonnegut and Thelonious Monk - in his "President's View" in the April issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Journal. As a voracious reader of Vonnegut's writing and an even more voracious listener of Monk's music, it was a joy to see Holloway cite their visionary artistry as examples of how a professional association (of lawyers, no less!) can leverage the strength of individual voices for the common good of collectively advancing its causes and objectives - Vonnegut's "karass." 

In Monk's case, the other musicians he surrounded himself with shared his desire to find a new musical language to express their feelings, a language that eventually came to be known as "bebop." Rooted in the individual sounds and ideas these founding members of bebop (including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell) brought to the table, the conception they created together continues to influence jazz today, more than 70 years later. Recently, one of Monk's young disciples, the brilliant pianist, Vijay Iyer, described Monk as an "architect of feeling." Attempting to play some of Monk's compositions that seemed simple on the surface made him appreciate how difficult and unique they actually were.

Monk's legacy continues today in the form of yet another karass - the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, whose mission is to nurture and acknowledge musical excellence and which sponsors educational programs and an annual contest for young jazz talents, many of whom have gone on to noteworthy careers. The Monk Institute's story provides another nice parallel to the MBA's nurturing and acknowledgment of legal excellence and the noteworthy careers of its members! ¦

Laurence D. Shind, Esq.
Kertzman & Weil LLP, Wellesley
Jazz host, WGBH, 89.7 FM, Boston