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, is played as a "jang-jang" bluesy railroad swinger, with almost a country and western tilt. Howard Johnson
. Like Owens, Barron infuses his Monk, not as the crazy sorcerer, but as a bluesy melody maker. "Brilliant Corners" is slowed to a stop/start wriggle, its quirk swapped for the blues, almost to announce a new and listener-friendly translation. The same goes for the difficult "Let's Cool One," that is choreographed in a more introspect way, changing the tempo from 4/4 to 3/4 time.
Owens' tribute to Monk is a craftsman's project, making beautiful what was once foreign and undomesticated. Monk purists may scoff, but fans of gorgeous music will exalt.
Track Listing: Bright Mississippi; Well You Needn't; Blue Monk; Stuffy Turkey;
Pannonica; Let's Cool One; It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That
Swing); Brilliant Corners; Reflections; Epistrophy.
Personnel: Jimmy Owens: trumpet, flugelhorn; Wycliffe Gordon: trombone; Marcus
Strickland: tenor saxophone; Howard Johnson: tuba, baritone saxophone; Kenny Barron: piano: Kenny Davis: bass; Winard Harper: drums.