12

Matt Lavelle and John Pietaro: Harmolodic Monk

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Every time it looks like all the gold has been mined from Thelonious Monk's music, somebody comes along to prove otherwise.

Harmolodic Monk finds multi-instrumentalist Matt Lavelle and percussionist John Pietaro applying saxophone icon(oclast) Ornette Coleman's freeing philosophical ideal(s) to Monk's oft-performed music. To some, the resultant performances may seem far more complex than the originals, complete with mind-expanding abstractions, reductions, and alterations. To others, this music may be very simple to grasp. In truth, both viewpoints are correct. The album-opening "Epistrophy," painted with molasses and (de)constructed in unique fashion, and the penultimately-placed "Monk's Mood," built on a foundation of brooding uncertainty, make the argument for those who may tend to see the radical side of this music. Those same people, however, may feel differently when "Pannonica" begins. Lavelle's alto clarinet glides through the start of that number with extreme directness.

With each track, Lavelle and Pietaro manage to find something new to say, moving away from Monk's viewpoint and shifting gears from the previous number(s). Primal modernism wins out on "Green Chimneys," the gentler side of Monk is taken to the outer limits in solo features for Lavelle ("Crepuscule With Nellie") and Pietaro ("Ruby, My Dear"), and "Let's Cool One," bookended with Monk-ish stability, features a stunning brass cadenza at its core. Some classics still exude the charms they were born with ("Round Midnight"), but others lurk in the shadows, shrouded in mystery and veiled with individual expression.

Those who like their Monk straight, with no musical chasers, may have a hard time swallowing this music, but that's a shame. There's tremendous ingenuity and skill behind Harmolodic Monk. Matt Lavelle and John Pietaro deserve a lot of credit for finding a new entryway into the oft-visited world of Thelonious Monk.

Track Listing: Epistrophy; Pannonica; Green Chimneys/52nd Street Theme; ’Round Midnight; Crepuscule with Nellie; Nutty; Ruby, My Dear; Let’s Cool One; Blue Monk/Straight No Chaser; Monk’s Mood; In Walked Bud; Light Blue.

Personnel: Matt Lavelle: cornet, flugelhorn, alto clarinet; John Pietaro: vibraphone, bodhrán, congas, percussion.

Title: Harmolodic Monk | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Unseen Rain Records

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
What is Jazz?
Album Reviews
Book Reviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Megaphone
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Solidarity

Solidarity

Unseen Rain Records
2016

buy
Harmolodic Monk

Harmolodic Monk

Unseen Rain Records
2015

buy
Harmolodic Monk

Harmolodic Monk

Unseen Rain Records
2014

buy

Related Articles

Read New Jazz Standards, Vol. 4 Album Reviews
New Jazz Standards, Vol. 4
By Dan Bilawsky
April 24, 2019
Read Open Form For Society Album Reviews
Open Form For Society
By Mark Corroto
April 24, 2019
Read Yes Album Reviews
Yes
By John Sharpe
April 24, 2019
Read Avec le temps Album Reviews
Avec le temps
By Mark Sullivan
April 23, 2019
Read Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog Album Reviews
Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog
By Mark Corroto
April 23, 2019
Read Requiem for a New York Slice Album Reviews
Requiem for a New York Slice
By Mark Corroto
April 23, 2019
Read Trion Album Reviews
Trion
By Dan McClenaghan
April 22, 2019