Francis Monkman obituary

Francis Monkman lived his life by Duke Ellington’s dictum that there are only two kinds of music — “the good and the other kind”.

Surfing the gamut of musical genres and styles, he was equally at home playing guitar with the prog-rock band Curved Air, giving a classical harpsichord recital on London’s South Bank, joining a blues jam in a Camden pub or recording Bach fugues on an 18th-century organ in a German church.

“If it sounds good, it’s successful. If it doesn’t, it has failed,” Ellington famously added — and once the music no longer sounded “good” to Monkman’s discerning ear, he moved on, regardless of commercial success.

Consequently he left Curved Air at the height of the group’s popularity in 1972 due to

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