T.S. Monk's latest release, Crosstalk flirts perilously close to smooth jazz with it's drum machine fills and synthesizer washes, but make no mistake, this is masterfully performed jazz by a musician who knows exactly what he's doing. After the great critical and commercial success of "Monk on Monk," T.S. decided it was safe to finally do what he's dreamed of for years: blend elements of pop and funk with jazz to create something that was truly his own as he says "to come across as a cross between Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and Blood Sweat and Tears.". He's succeeded remarkably well. The CD and the T.S. Monk Band has a lot going for it. Don Sickler has selected and arranged a majority of the tunes and his musical tastes are impeccable. One wonderful surprise is "Smile of the Snake" that appeared on Art Farmer's great 1987 CD, "Blame It on My Youth." And although many of the tunes are on the smooth side, all the solos are beautifully conceived. For instance, on the ballad, "A Touching Affair," the trading of solos between flute and flugelhorn and then soprano and alto saxophones is wonderfully mellow without the cloying sweetness of most smooth jazz. "Squeaky Clean" by pianist Ray Gallon is the only really straight ahead sounding tune, with a Monkish feel to it and "A Chant for Bu" swings with a syncopated rhythm. The title Tune "Cross Talk" could be from one of Miles Davis' mid 80's CDs. Believe it or not, T.s. even sings on two tracks, the rousing "Somebody Give Me a Drink" and the ballad "Just a Little Loin" where he's joined by vocalist Patricia Barber. Both are very enjoyable. All the solos from Willie Williams, Bob Porcelli and Don Sickler are terrificthe harmony and interplay are especially notable. Like all great jazz albums, there's so much good stuff going on here that repeated listenings yield new treasures. I predict this album will do very well because there's so much to enjoy, no matter what kind of jazz you like.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.