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Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble: Elegy for Thelonious

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Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble: Elegy for Thelonious
There was a sardonic saying circulating a few years ago that observed, "It's Frank Sinatra's world, we just live in it." While that was a backhanded compliment, tailoring it to the subject of this large ensemble recording, we would call it a commendation. Pianist, composer, and conductor Frank Carlberg is telling us, "It's Thelonious Monk's world, and (thank god) we live in it." Carlberg has been a disciple of Monk for decades, recording his music in a piano trio format and in duos with the likes of saxophonist Noah Preminger, pianist Leo Genovese, drummer Audra Menconi and vocalist Christine Correa. In 2017 he released Monk Dreams, Hallucinations And Nightmares (Red Piano Records) a recording with his 18-piece large ensemble, Carlberg at the piano and JC Sanford conducting.

Carlberg returns to Monk for Elegy For Thelonious with another 18-piece ensemble, this time conducting and leaving the piano and keyboard duties to Genovese. Carlberg's partner Correa returns plus the Priya Carlberg sharing vocal duties. As a composer, Carlberg eschews impersonating Monk, opting instead to re-compose his music utilizing what he calls melodic "cells and splinters" of Monk. The opening track "Spooky Rift We Pat" (an anagram of "Tea For Two" and "Skippy") incorporates the simple composition into the Monk piece creating a logic from incongruous parts. Correa's vocals center the performance, as do solos from saxophonist Adam Kolker and trumpeter David Adewumi. Carlberg, like Monk before him, takes the familiar and makes it his own. "Out of Steam" deconstructs Monk's "Locomotive," "Scallop's Scallop" ("Gallop's Gallop"), and "Wrinkle In Trinkle" ("Trinkle Tinkle"). Carlberg's imaginative arrangements are underscored by the fine soloing of the likes of Kirk Knuffke, John Carlson, Brain Drye, Chris Washburne, Jeremy Udden, and Henry Paz. Carlson chose Genovese, not because he was a Monk impersonator, but because he brought his own voice to this project.

The centerpiece here is the title track where Genovese adds eerie electric keyboards to his acoustic attack as Correa recites Yusef Komunyakaa's tribute poem with backing from Priya Carlberg. The music weaves scenes and images of Monk around his composition titles while referencing the hymn "Abide By Me." This fitting elegy leads us to conclude this dude (Carlberg) abides.

Track Listing

Spooky Rift We Pat; Out of Steam; Wanting More; Elegy for Thelonious; Scallop’s Scallop; Wrinkle on Trinkle; Brake Tune.

Personnel

Frank Carlberg
composer / conductor
Sam Hoyt
trumpet
Brian Drye
trombone
Leo Genovese
keyboards
Kim Cass
bass, acoustic
John Carlson
trumpet
Kirk Knuffke
trumpet
Tyler Bonilla
trombone
Max Seigel
trombone
Jeremy Udden
woodwinds
Adam Kolker
woodwinds
Hery Paz
woodwinds
Andrew Hadro
woodwinds

Album information

Title: Elegy for Thelonious | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


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