Amazon.com Widgets

Han Bennink / Michiel Borstlap / Ernst Glerum: Monk (2008)

By Published: | 5,828 views
Han Bennink / Michiel Borstlap / Ernst Glerum: Monk How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

With so many tribute albums to jazz icon Thelonious Monk already made, it's hard to imagine how much more can be added to the pianist's canon without becoming redundant. Perhaps, however, it's not all that surprising that an album of Monk material featuring Dutch wildman/drummer Han Bennink, piano phenom Michiel Borstalp and bassist Ernst Glerum, would find fresh new ways to interpret Monk's body of work and, with no shortage of New Dutch Swing, bring its own sense of playful idiosyncrasy to the table.



Aside from mirroring Monk's curiously playful approach with the same Dutch levity and absurdity that Bennink and Glerum bring to larger ensembles like ICP Orchestra and pianist Misha Mengelberg's various groups, a distinguishing feature of Monk is that Bennink plays nothing but a single snare drum. In many cases Bennink manages to do, with that single drum augmented by his sticks, brushes and hands, what other drummers sometimes struggle to accomplish with an entire kit. Just a set of brushes and some appropriately placed timing make the knotty "Four in One" swing, with Bennink's accents always intuitive, relevant and never superfluous. He turns more dynamic on the lesser-known "Think of One" while, on the often-covered "Myserioso," Bennink alters the feel throughout with the subtlest of shifts, turning it into a viscerally grooving yet spacious blues. Glerum is at his most robust, while Borstlap is liberated, light-hearted and, at the same time, gutsy, as the entire trio sympathetically covers surprising territory in a brief five minutes.



Borstlap is a player with few (if any) limits, playing music ranging from the groove-happy Eldorado (Gramercy Park, 2008) to freely improvised duets with drummer Bill Bruford on In Two Minds (Summerfold, 2008), and clever acoustic reinventions of Weather Report tunes on Body Acoustic (Emarcy, 1999). Here he's deeply in tune with both the tradition and the spirit of Monk; in turns poignant on the balladic "Pannonica," and lithely swinging with just a hint of sharp eccentricity on the mid-tempo "Epistrophy."



Glerum is a perennially underrated bassist who, like his trio-mates here, has proven himself capable of anything—especially in genre-bending groups like ICP, which moves from complex arrangement to crazed improvisation and back at the drop of a dime. Here he's more centrist, if anything, the flexible anchor that holds everything together while, at the same time, responding to the various push-and- pulls Borstlap and Bennink suggest. He throws a few twists and turns of his own into a Latin-esque version of "Bye-Ya," where he busies up towards the end, and a rubato reading of "Crepuscule with Nellie" that may be the album's most brilliant yet completely understated track.



There are plenty of surprises in the way this trio approach the music of Monk; but unpredictability is a trademark of the Dutch scene. Still, Monk is plenty centrist enough for the mainstream-at-heart, but with plenty of the unexpected for those familiar with these three marvelous and, at times, appropriately comedic musicians.



Visit Han Bennink, Michiel Borstlap and Ernst Glerum on the web.

Track Listing: in One; Think of One; Mysterioso; Skippy; Pannonica; Epistrophy; Nutty (alt. take); Bye-Ya; Crepuscule with Nellie; Evidence; Let's Cool One; Ask Me Now.

Personnel: Han Bennink: snare drum; Michiel Borstlap: piano; Ernst Glerum: acoustic bass.

Record Label: Gramercy Park Music

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


comments powered by Disqus
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Mort Weiss

Mort Weiss

About | Enter

Rotem Sivan

Rotem Sivan

About | Enter

Michael Carvin

Michael Carvin

About | Enter

Steve Wilson/Lewis Nash

Steve Wilson/Lewis Nash

About | Enter

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.

A musician was found with a matching name

Name:

Birthday:

Instrument:

Is this you?