The Jazz Baroness

December 8, 2009

Young Pannonica “Nica” Rothschild has it all. As the beautiful heiress to one of the world’s largest fortunes, she lives a life of 1950s decadence. But on her way to catch a jet out of JFK to meet her husband, she stops to hear a jazz record by a struggling musician. She never makes her plane. So taken with the unknown’s musical talents, Nica braves social censure, and even jail, to cultivate the genius of the now-legendary Thelonious Monk. Rescuing instruments from pawn shops, even shepherding bands to gigs in her Bentley, this white Jewish woman becomes an unlikely freedom fighter for a generation of black artists, a patron saint for the bebop movement.

I love learning more and more about Nica’s relationship with Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker. 

She played “Round Midnight” 20 times in a row the first time she heard it. 

The documentary of her will be on HBO this month.