Mutations: Exponential Muzak

It always amazes me how some people believe they know more about an event than the people who were actually there. With my own ears I have heard know-it-alls tell a performer how something went down when it was the performer who was there, on the bandstand, in the studio, wherever, doing whatever. The only thing more egregious is when someone professes to understand the intent of a work better than the person who created it, and because they know better, they can perform it better than the creator. Case in point (courtesy of Pat Coil and Bill Kirchner) is this proclamation from Hans Groiner:

On the one hand, Mr. Monk had obvious talents, but on the other hand, his piano playing was very messy, and his songs had many funny notes and rhythms. Over the many years that I have been studying his music, I have grown to the conclusion that his songs would be much better, and much more popular, if many of the dissonances, or “wrong notes,” were removed. With my new CD, “Hans Groiner Plays Monk,” I have done just that. I think music fans from all over will agree that this new interpretation brings Monk’s music to a much prettier, much more relaxing place.

Is this guy for real? Maybe Monk didn’t intend for it to sound pretty or feel relaxed. Or maybe he thought it was pretty. More likely, pretty was not his goal. Everyone is entitled to their interpretation, but I bristle at the assertion that his renditions are “better” than Monk’s.