Back in October of nineteen sixty two, John F. Kennedy was the president. The cold war was at its peak, the Beatles had not yet come to America, and Ray Gogarty needed a sub for his steady gig at Club Forty on Long Island.
Ray knew Joe Monk, who was "a name" on Long Island and the top local jazz guitarist. "Joe was a very strong, powerful, deliberate player. He could do everything. Chords, single notes, double stops at fast tempos. I would just name the song, the key, and he would play it perfectly. Everything was O.K. with Joe," said Ray.
When Joe agreed to do that night at Club Forty, Ray immediately borrowed an Ampex tape recorder that ran fifteen ips with a Neuimann microphone. "I really wanted to get him on tape because I felt he was such a good player, unusually good, and there was no one around at that time on Long Island who played like him. Joe could have been one of the biggest names on the guitar, but he didn't want that". Ray said. "He wanted to be home at night, teach guitar and be with his family".
Ray and Joe Monk had never played together before or after, but the magic of that night is apparent.
With great appreciation for Rays foresight and effort, Making this recording possible and enabling all who knew and loved Joe Monk to hear a great moment of jazz guitar, preserved for all time, we thank you.
Joe was born January eighteenth nineteen thirty two in New York, leaving school in the ninth grade to help support his family and begin a life dedicated to music and teaching.
Just talk to anyone who ever met Joe, and they will, undoubtedly, tell you a funny story or memory of their time with him. His personality, laughter, and honesty were unique, as was his completely humble view, and persona of himself.
At one point in the late nineties, I started to bug Joe about going into the studio to record, but he always dismissed the idea saying, "I would have to really prepare something different, and really have something to say, and anyway I think I'm going to paint my house this summer". The next time I persued that topic with Joe he just said, "I'm done playing out, those days are over, I just want to teach, I enjoy the kids".
Joe Monk never did go into the studio to record his music, to preserve his special talent, perfect touch on the guitar, and his endless study of the instrument that consumed his life.
I remember years ago when we were kids, going to Joe's studio for lessons, and
seeing the neon sign in the second floor window that read "Guitar Lessons". Walking up the dark dusty stairway, passed Angelo (the accordion teachers studio) to Mr. Monks waiting room, where sometimes a sign on the wall to the right of the door read, no lessons today, Mr. Monk is out, even though you would hear Joe behind that closed door practicing.
Joe once said, "I'm going to spend this life studying and learning the guitar so in the next life I can really go out and play it". The way only Joe Monk could!
Jon Sholle for the many long hours, days, and months transferring and editing the many tapes collected. They were in very rough condition, so his tireless dedication and great skill and musicality, helped make this project possible.
Andy Gertler donated so much time scanning photographs, Monk arrangements, designing and creating the CD artwork and web site. Andy was a great force, helping this project take flight. If you have any questions or comments pertaining to www.joemonk.com please contact Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Monk and the rest of Joe's family.
Very special thanks to Pie Studios in Glen Cove, NY, Perry, George and Karen for the preservation of the Club Forty tapes, their work and generosity.
Joe Berger who continued to push this forward project forward from the beginning with a focus, perseverance, and sense of loyalty to Joe Monk.
Joe Monk's music will live on in all of us.