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Monk: Harmony of Odd Numbers (2003)

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Monk: Harmony of Odd Numbers No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

San Francisco Bay Area fixtures Chuck Bernstein, Si Perkoff, and Frank Passantino join forces to produce the finest Thelonious Monk recital of the new millennium. Gleefully, this trio has avoided the tried and true Monk classics; so do not expect to hear "’Round Midnight," "Blue Monk," or "Straight, No Chaser." Familiarity with these pieces only helps, but listening to this disc will readily provide you with all of the musical elements characteristic of the composer.

Spearheaded by drummer Chuck Berstein, Harmony of Odd Numbers plays on paper like a tribute recording, but it's anything but. It is rather an in-depth investigation into the craggy mind of Monk. Pianist Si Perkoff acts as musical director. Mr. Perkoff is a St. Louis native who made his way west to record with Mike Vax, Art Pepper, and Harry "Sweets" Edison. He has been an educator for the past 30 years. Perkoff’s approach to Monk is one of the solidly best that I have heard in many years. His command to the prickly master’s work is unsurpassed.

The band picks some of the least performed Monk pieces for treatment here. The most outspoken are the opener, "Thelonious," and "Blue Boliver Blues"; the most introspective are "Ugly Beauty" and "Crepuscule with Nellie." These pieces are presented in a tightly arranged trio format that crackles with electricity. The trio, acting in concert, buffs Monk’s music without removing its perfect rough beauty.

For more information, visit Si Perkoff on the web.

Track Listing: Thelonious; Blue Boliver Blues; Ugly Beauty; Introspection; Skippy; Monk

Personnel: Chuck Bernstein

Record Label: CMB Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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