After earning a reputation in school as a rabble-rouser, and graduating, the young Monk joined his father’s trio and toured with his dad until the elder Monk’s retirement in 1975. T. S. then launched into the music that had captivated him and his generation, R&B. He first toured with a group called Natural Essence and afterward, with his sister Barbara, formed his own band with which he had hits on two recordings, House Of Music and More Of The Good Life, where he played drums, arranged, and sang.
T. S. received the New York Jazz Awards First Annual “Recording of the Year” and ‘Downbeat’s’ prestigious 63rd Reader’s Poll Award for Monk On Monk, the “80th Anniversary Birthday Tribute to Thelonious Sphere Monk” featuring twenty guest artists including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Arturo Sandoval, Dianne Reeves, Nnenna Freelon, Howard Johnson, among others perform on the recording. Critics and the public lauded T. S. Monk as his father’s true musical heir, as bandleader, and performer. Rave reviews in the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, the L.A. Times, and others, echoed the public sentiment of the sold out concert hall shows across the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.
Shortly after his father passed away leaving a rich and legendary legacy and, tragically, his sister died of cancer. To honor his father’s legacy and support the efforts of education, Thelonious turned his attention toward forming the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. As Chairman, Thelonious has been at the forefront of helping to create a number of programs that range supporting after-school athletic programs. The Institute’s activities reach from Boston to Los Angeles sponsoring music education for students in the form of full scholarships to funding and supplies and from New York to Orlando.
In 1992, Thelonious formed his jazz sextet and received raves from the moment they hit the stage and the studio. One of the most unique groups on the circuit, the T. S. Monk Sextet’s cohesive and driving style has been heard at the JVC Jazz at the Bowl festival, Sun Valley Center, Lied Center for the Performing Arts, and many of the legendary jazz clubs.