Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble: Elegy for Thelonious


Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble: Elegy for Thelonious


Sign in to view read count
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.


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

Album information

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

< Previous
Dances Of Freedom



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Justin Salisbury
Duke's Place
Mercer Hassy Orchestra
Outer, Inner, Secret
Louie Belogenis
Trachant PAP
Trachant PAP


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.