Were you to ask Jazz musicians active in and around New York City during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s to describe
Pannonica de Koenigswarter, you would get terms like ‘Jazz Baroness’ or ‘Bebop Baroness’ – the ‘Baroness’ was official
as she was at one time married to a Baron.
She was beloved by – and supported Jazz musicians during the mid-twentieth century – including providing homes to
many – most notably Thelonious Monk, who lived out the last years of his life in her home in New Jersey. Charlie
Parker died in her home in NYC in 1955.
Monk composed two tunes related to, and honoring her: “Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are”, referring to the Hotel Bolivar in
which she lived for several years in New York City; and “Pannonica”, her first name.
The respect and appreciated of musicians is reflected in the number of tunes honoring her: “Nica’s Dream”, Horace
Silver; “Nica”, Sonny Clark; “Nica’s Tempo”, Gigi Gryce; “To Nica”, Kenny Dorham; “Blues for Nica”, Kenny Drew; “Nica
Steps Out”, Freddie Redd; “Inca”, Barry Harris; “Thelonica”, Tommy Flanigan.
Many of those tunes are seldom heard, but any time you listen and enjoy “Pannonica” or ”Nica’s Dream”, you share in
the appreciation of one of the most important patrons of Jazz during the 20 th Century.
If you’re interested to learn more, the Anacortes Library has a biography: Nica’s Dream: The Life and Legend of the Jazz
Baroness, by David Kastin.