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Jimmy Owens: The Monk Project

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Who better to pay homage to one of the musical geniuses of the 20th century than seven of today's most idiosyncratic artists? The septet is lead by Jimmy Owens, who is known for his versatility in settings as diverse as swing bands and avant-garde ensembles; most notably, for this undertaking, he organized a concert of Thelonious Monk music at Carnegie Hall in 1974 that featured the legendary pianist himself. Although The Monk Project features nine of the master's compositions, they are not slavishly reproduced but they serve as inspiration for Owens' loose interpretation. On “Well You Needn't," ...

NEW YORK BEAT

Jimmy Owens and the Monk Evolution

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When an artist comes along who convolutes traditional form, it sometimes takes eons for that artist's contribution to be understood, evaluated and finally appreciated. Initially, composer Igor Stravinsky was thrown out of Paris at the premier of “Le Sacre du Printemps," author James Joyce was banned in Boston for Ulysses," and composer John Cage ridiculed for his performance of “4'33." The list of convoluters is a long one. In the 1940s, pianist Thelonious Monk finally settled on exploring new melodic and harmonic creations made possible by the innovative chord changes and progressions of bebop, and astounded even ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jimmy Owens: The Monk Project

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Jimmy Owens' tribute to the indomitable music of Thelonious Monk is a luxurious road trip that travels on smooth roads once precarious and quite perilous. His septet, an experienced large/small ensemble, glides almost effortlessly through the opulence of this music.The ease in which these musicians maneuver through the nine Monk compositions, plus Duke Ellington's “It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," is a testament to their talents, but more so to Owens' deft arrangements. Owens pronounces Monk's music approachable, congenial and quite user-friendly.The often thorny “Epistrophy," a left-handed compliment of a song, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jimmy Owens: The Monk Project

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With a career spanning over 45 years, legendary trumpeter Jimmy Owens has had the privilege of performing with many giants of jazz, including trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, pianist Billy Taylor, bassist Charles Mingus, drummer Max Roach and the incomparable pianist Duke Ellington. Though he never had the opportunity to record with pianist Thelonious Monk, he did know and admire him, and has played the icon's music throughout his career. The Monk Project is Owen's tribute to a special man and his music, both representing lasting influences on the trumpeter. With the exception of one Ellington tune, the album focuses on nine ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jimmy Owens: The Monk Project

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Albums built on the idea of reworking the music of Thelonious Monk have become so commonplace as to risk being seen as old hat before the shrink wrap even comes off the CD, but the success or failure of these projects doesn't rest with the actual recasting of the legendary pianist's work. The manner by which an artist recasts Monk is of greater importance than the act itself, and everybody has their own take on the man and his music. Pianist Jason Moran took the famed 1959 Town Hall Concert to new places in live performance, guitarists ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jimmy Owens: The Monk Project

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Thelonious Monk is not suffering from inattention in 2011; it seems, in fact, that he's having a great year, for someone who died in 1982. His singularly quirky tunes have become the staples of hundreds of set lists, and it's hard to swing a dead cat in a record store without hitting dozens of new releases that include at least one Monk song. And why not? Monk's compositions are among the most original, identifiable and substantial music in the jazz canon; the guy was an eccentric genius but, as they say, it's the genius that counts.Following on the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jimmy Owens: Peaceful Walking

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Trumpeter/flugelhornist Jimmy Owens is truly one of the unsung heroes of jazz. Over the course of his forty year career, the New York native has worked with giants like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach, and recorded as a leader for major labels like Atlantic and Polydor. He's also been active as a jazz educator and activist. But he's never really achieved major name recognition. Owens' Peaceful Walking is a collection of mostly original songs recorded in Italy with an organ-guitar-drums trio of young, still developing Italian musicians. The set covers a ...



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