In what amounts to a public announcement, the press release that accompanies this album reports that baritone saxophonist Marc Rosen has spent decades worshipping the music of Gerry Mulligan. Dating back to his high school years, the teen would take frequent trips into Chicago until he finally saw Jeru's set at Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase. Although Rosen has been a member, and leader, of several jazz ensembles, the Sweet Thunder Jazztet is his opportunity to showcase the Mulligan songbookas well as his own compositions which reflect that style.
In presenting eleven original compositions, Rosen avoids slavishly copying the Mulligan sound. Rather, his music represents what the baritone saxophonist has been gravitating towards for many years. The only non-Rosen composition, "Marc VI," was written by arranger Dave Wolpe specifically for this band; it opens the album with the pungent sound of the Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker Quartet of the mid-1950s. That is further enhanced by the presence of trumpeter/flugelhornist Paul Buening, who doesn't sound that much like Chet Baker. Rather, he provides the final touch to the period sound that the Mulligan group had tapped into. Beuning appears on other (unspecified) tracks, and more of them would have been welcomed.
Rosen comes closest in the Mulligan sound on the ballads like "Dormindinha," which demonstrate the essence of the big yet lyrical sound of the baritone sax. On the Rosen originals, he has absorbed the melodic and harmonic ideas that were a vital part of Mulligan's vocabulary. The other players, Dave Davidson (piano and keyboards), Scott Baekeland or Gregg Carpenter (bass guitar), and Fred Johnson (drums) all sound up to the job and are provided with solo moments, but the chief interest here is the playing and writing of Marc Rosen.
While it doesn't really offer anything new, Monsoon provides a pleasant journey into the past.
Track Listing: Marc VI; One-Eyed Jack, Mulligan Stew; Dormindinha; Janet's Blues; Eurydice's Theme; Lightning Flash; Sweet Thunder; Janetude; Rolling Thunder; Charlie's Comin'
Personnel: Marc Rosen: tenor and baritone sax; Dave Davidson: piano and keyboards; Scott Baekeland or Gregg Carpenter: bass guitar; Fred Johnson: drums; Paul Beuning: flugelhorn and trumpet