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All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Live From New York

August 2004

By Published: August 13, 2004
The Village Vanguard closed out July with a weeklong engagement by Ben Riley's Monk Legacy Septet. The band, featuring guitarist Freddie Bryant, bassist Essiet Okon Essiet, trumpeter Don Sickler, and a saxophone section of Bruce Williams (alto), Wayne Escoffery (tenor) and Jay Branford (baritone), was in full swing Wednesday July 26, negotiating Sickler's unrestrained arrangements, driven by Riley's rhythmic exhortations, with skillful abandon. Beginning with Shuffle Boil, Sickler employed an engaging formula, dividing Monk's multifaceted melodies into a succession of short phrases played by different players, often with horns or guitar riffing alternating staccato and legato backgrounds and Riley interjecting drum interludes that mimicked Monk's dancing rhythms. The method worked particularly well on Straight No Chaser, which began dramatically with a cappela horns and culminated with an extended drum solo.

Williams and Branford were featured on the melancholy ballad "Ask Me Now" and Escoffery swung mightily on "Nutty", as did Sickler, whose arranging skills shined brightly on the Latinish "Bye-Ya" and contrapuntal "Boo Boo's Birthday". Bryant's guitar joyfully imitated Monk's dissonant piano chords and idiosyncratic rhythmic runs over Essiet's stalwart walking bass on "We See". The climactic performance of "Green Chimney" incited an impromptu clapping accompaniment from the audience, which cheered loudly as the players were introduced during the playing of the break tune, "Epistrophy".

~ Russ Musto


Recommended Listening:

– Rabih Abou-Khalil - Morton's Foot (Enja-Justin Time)

– The Nels Cline Singers - The Giant Pin (Cryptogramophone)

– Steve Hancoff - The Single Petal of a Rose (Out of Time)

– John McNeil - Sleep Won't Come (OmniTone)

– Maria Schneider - Concert in the Garden (ArtistShare)

– Bobby Watson - Horizon Reassembled (Palmetto)

~David Adler (NY@Night Columnist, AllAboutJazz.com)

– Jeff Johnson - Near Earth (Origin)

– Jessica Jones - Nod (with Connie Crothers & Joseph Jarman) (New Artists)

– Francois Carrier - Travelling Lights (Justin Time)

– Von Freeman - The Great Divide (Premonition)

– João Gilberto - In Tokyo (Verve)

– Allison Miller - 5am Stroll (Foxhaven)

~ Laurence Donohue-Greene (Managing Editor, AllAboutJazz-New York)

– Tim Berne's Big Satan - Souls Saved Hear (Thirsty Ear)

– Dreamtime (with Nick Evans & Keith Tippett) - Cathanger '86 (Hux)

– Satoko Fujii/Mark Dresser/Jim Black - Illusion Suite (Libra)

– Dennis Gonzalez Inspiration Band (with Henry Grimes) - Nile River Suite (Daagnim)

– Andrew Hill - The Day the World Stood Still (Stunt)

– Steve Lehman Quintet - Artificial Light (Fresh Sound-New Talent)

~ Bruce Gallanter (Proprietor, Downtown Music Gallery)



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