Tuesday, December 6, 2016

John Beasley "MONK'estra Vol. 1"

John Beasley, piano and arrangements
Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the last big band leader to take on a full set of Monk tunes was Bill Holman. And that widely acclaimed album, Brilliant Corners, dates way back to 1997. Well, in a fair and just jazz world, this Monk effort should be similarly praised. Beasley flies high with some spicy, saucy arrangements. There are lots of impressive ensemble passages and some sound intricate and downright difficult enough to call Thad Jones-Mel Lewis to mind. In this atmosphere it's easy to understand that the solo work is often challenging and in-your-face. Among the nine Monk classics examined here, you'll find "Epistrophy", "Ask Me Now", "Little Rootie Tootie", "Coming On The Hudson" and of course, "Round Midnight". Other less well known but uniquely Monk tunes complete the program. Monk's music lends itself well to varied interpretations. It sure works well in this roaring big band setting.

Mack Avenue Records; 2016; appx. 48 min.

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