Medium: CD
Year: 2014

Availability: Out of stock



This is Thelonious Monk's music lovingly reinterpreted by one of his most ardent supporters (and sometimes collaborator) Steve Lacy, also featuring Roswell Rudd, Henry Grimes, and Monk stalwart Denis Charles on drums, not to mention Thelonious himself on the the two closing tracks. The group stay close to the original forms of Monk's tunes considering the personnel here, and its nice to hear them playing in a more restrained manner while pushing the songs into new shapes. Denis Charles sounds particularly swinging and melodic.

"Bye-ya" opens the disc with just a trio of Rudd, Lacy,and Charles. It's a robust version regardless. The additional space is filled with the sound of the drums in this live and somewhat raw setting (although this cd is a vast improvement over previous, incomplete versions).. Even without a defined tonic center (via piano or bass) the horns concentrate on restructuring the melody instead of abandoning it altogether. "Pannonica" (incomplete) follows with the same personnel. "Monk's Dream" finally adds Grimes and things really start swinging. Rudd squawks out slurred lines before Lacy lovingly blows a solo full of short phrases , playing all over his instrument in fragmented cells, much like the tune's author. Grimes solos next and manages keep the melody close at hand while managing to unearth new possibilities in Monk's harmonies.

The group then trade fours with Charles, whose fills are deceptively simple sounding but quite polyrhythmic. Like a less explosive Blakey, he linearly solos in consistent motifs over the drum breaks. Perhaps his presence is what keeps this music sounding so inside as a lesser drummer may have defaulted to a freer approach. Next comes one of my all time Monk favorites "Brilliant Corners", and like the recorded version with Roach, Rollins, etc, this one moves thru many tempos and moods. Grimes' solo is especially noteworthy here. "Monk's Mood" follows with Rudd and Charles swinging hard on this one. Closing out the cd, "Evidence" is one of the two tracks to showcase Monk in a typical reading from this era. Swinging, boundary pushing, and full of invention. This record is an absolute pleasure.