Employing Don Sickler's transcriptions and arrangements, T.S. Monk's ten-piece ensemble sounds like a big band; saxophones, trumpets, trombones and rhythm section combine to interpret Thelonious Monk's compositions. Focusing on tunes Monk wrote for family and friends, the ensemble delivers "Little Rootie Tootie," written for his son, "Boo Boo's Birthday," written for his daughter Barbara's birthday, "In Walked Bud," written for his best friend Bud Powell, "Ruby, My Dear," written for a girlfriend, "Jackie-ing," written for a favorite niece, and "Crepuscule With Nellie," written for his lovely wife. In addition, this session includes the intriguing "Ugly Beauty," the familiar "Bright Mississippi," and the never-before-recorded "Two Timer." With lyrics by Sally Swisher and a vocal feature by Kevin Mahogany, "Ruby, My Dear" becomes "Dear Ruby." Lyrics by Jon Hendricks and a vocal transformation by Dianne Reeves and Nnenna Freelon changes "In Walked Bud" to "Suddenly." Solid solo ventures by Clark Terry, Howard Johnson, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wallace Roney, Geri Allen, Bobby Watson, Christian McBride, Danilo Perez, Grover Washington Jr, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter and others raise the performance level of this session considerably.
The familiar "In Walked Bud," renamed "Suddenly" with lyrics, begins when Howard Johnson and Clark Terry state that familiar melody. The music of composer Thelonious Monk is quite familiar to jazz fans today, but an inherent trait throughout his works is the unpredictability of each melodic line. The lyrics have been carefully constructed to allow for the syncopated twists and turns of Monk's interesting melody. They pay tribute to Bud Powell as Monk had intended, with compliments on how everyone liked Bud and appreciated the way he could find notes that nobody else knew were there. "Ugly Beauty" features Geri Allen and Wallace Roney; each presents a thorough treatment of the tune with individual tributes. Roney delivers a guest solo on "Jackie-ing" as well; the tune serves to highlight T.S. Monk's drumming, as well as solos by Bobby Watson, Dave Holland, and Ronnie Mathews. A perky march with a unique rhythm, the number closes out the session.
Enhanced with video shorts, audio briefs, and fifteen photographs, the computer-driven program provided with this CD offers the recorded music and a bit more. Along with a pointer towww.tsmonk.com and the credits for this production, you get audio and / or video anecdotes by Jimmy Heath, Ron Carter, Grover Washington Jr., Nellie Monk, and T.S. Monk. The software works well, and the images are well-done. The industrial world is going through a technological evolution that is fairly good now, and should only get better. Recommended.