"Epistrophy" is a jazz standard composed by Thelonious Monk and Kenny Clarke in 1942. It has been called "the first classic, modern jazz composition." It was first recorded later that year, under the title "Fly Right," by a big band led by Cootie Williams.
The title "Epistrophy" is not a word in any dictionary. However, the word "epistrophe" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "the repetition of a word or expression at the end of successive phrases, clauses, sentences, or verses especially for rhetorical or poetic effect." It is therefore likely that Monk coined the word to mean the use of repeated sounds at the end of a musical line. This corresponds to the term "BeBop" which refers not only to the new style of jazz Monk and others helped to create at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, but to the imitative onomatopoeia of the two-note phrase so often repeated at the end of a 1940s bebop musical line, in which the "bop" is five tones down from the "be."
Recordings & Releases
- Thelonious Monk, Genius of Modern Music: Volume 1
- Monk with John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall, recorded 1957 (two versions, one of them an incomplete recording)
- Max Roach, M'Boom (1979)
- Chaka Khan, as part of the "Be Bop Medley" on Chaka Khan (1982)
- Anton Schwartz, Flash Mob (2014)
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