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Heiner Stadler: Tribute to Bird & Monk (2011)

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Heiner Stadler: Tribute to Bird & Monk How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Tribute to Bird & Monk is a scintillating blast recorded in 1978, when the battle lines between innovation and the tradition were clearly drawn. In tackling compositions by Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
and Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
, and casting them in a fresh light, arranger Heiner Stadler obviously wasn't shy about playing the provocative agent. Initially it sounds as if he was intent only on realizing music that was as far removed from the source material as possible. However, upon repeated exposure to his recasting, it's clear that his effort and that of the crack band is a combined exercise in alternative realization.

Monk's "Ba-lue-Bolivar Ba-lues-are" comes closest to bridging the gap between tradition and innovation. Such is the nature of Monk's music that the distinction between tradition and innovation is arguably superfluous, and when Reggie Workman
Reggie Workman
Reggie Workman
b.1937
bass
's bowed bass takes up the story he makes the point persuasively. The scrabbling horns are redolent of all things free but the music's progress is the stuff of shared endeavor, with the sharing encompassing the late composer.

George Adams
George Adams
George Adams
b.1940
sax, tenor
's relatively straight tenor sax reading of the melody to Parker's "Au Privave" rebukes the notion that free players are incapable of playing straight. Trombonist George Lewis
George Lewis
George Lewis
b.1952
trombone
was working with Anthony Braxton
Anthony Braxton
Anthony Braxton
b.1945
reeds
at the time of this recording, and brings that experience to bear in his solo.

To be sure, Thad Jones
Thad Jones
Thad Jones
1923 - 1986
trumpet
was the closest link to the tradition in this band, having been in Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
's trumpet section back in the 1950s. Still, his cornet playing on "Misterioso" has the air of Don Cherry
Don Cherry
Don Cherry
1936 - 1995
trumpet
about it, and again the collective endeavor comes to full fruition when playing Monk's music. Surprisingly Warren I Smith
Warren I Smith
Warren I Smith
b.1934
percussion
's timpani playing brings shades of quietly realized satire, as opposed to mere bluster. Pianist Stanley Cowell
Stanley Cowell
Stanley Cowell
b.1941
piano
applies only his own touch, and there's something admirable in the way he doesn't try to tackle Monk's inimitable spirit head on.

It all makes for something special, not least because the project still results in some extraordinary insights.


Track Listing: Air Conditioning; Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are; Au Privave; Straight No Chaser; Misterioso; Perhaps.

Personnel: Thad Jones: cornet, flugelhorn; Cecil Bridgewater: trumpet; George Lewis: trombone; George Adams: tenor sax, flute; Stanley Cowell: piano; Reggie Workman: bass; Lenny White: drums; Warren Smith: timpani; Heiner Stadler: conductor, arranger.

Record Label: Labor Records


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