The next installment to the Ukulele Fakebook Project is the great Bee Bop pianist Thelonius Monk composition called “Blue Monk”. This is a 12 bar blues that is originally written in Bb. This is a song that all the Bee Boppers have done and it is really fun and impressive to play.
I found a version in G that works best for the ukulele; playing the melody line on the A (first) string. There are a lot of nice inversions that chromatically change in this piece. I use these chromatic changes a lot when I arrange songs to give more of a bluesy feel. Once you get the hang of this the song theme is fairly easy to play and memorize as the finger themes are pretty repetitive.
This arrangement is played with the Re-entrant high G 4th string tuning. I do a few tricks with the finger picking on the high G 4th string to get the melody on the D7 tag in the 12 bar. I prefer to play this with a standard soprano tuning.
This song is best played on an instrument that has the biggest sustain, as there are a lot of notes you want to hold and let ring out like the single D note in the 9 measure. You will need an instrument with 13 frets or more to play this one. Alternately you can fake it on the wood or the strings. When executed well know one will every know, and those who do will be very impressed.
For this piece I have chosen my 1925 Weymann Brothers mahogany ukulele. This was an instrument that was gifted to me by a very famous ukulele luminary, player and singer who heard me play at one of the Craig Robertson's Ukulele Noir Nights on my KoAloha soprano. Please note that the KoAloha is a great instrument, but the gentlemen said that I needed to be playing a exceptional instrument. The inset photo by Robert Wheeler shows me playing KoAloha, at that early Ukulele Noir.
I love all my instruments and they each have their own sound. When playing and arranging a piece I try them all to see which instrument has the correct personality for the piece. The generous gent would say that this is Ukulele Consciousness. The gent that gifted me the Weymann asked to remain anonymous. Those educated in the world out ukulele know who this generous person is, and this song is my public thank you to him.
Please note the Weymann (pictured) only has 12 frets! (click on the picture to see the full resolution of the image). Weymann Bros. instruments are pretty interesting since the workshop was only a few doors down from the Martin workshop in Nazareth PA. By the way if any one is interested the serial number on the head stock is 40518 Model number 112.