Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

13

Joey Alexander: Joey.Monk.Live!

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
The late Thelonious Monk is most certainly the toast of the town these days. With the High Priest of Bop's centennial upon us, he's being saluted from all corners of the jazz world. Pianist John Beasley is leading the charge on the big band front with his MONK'estra, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is reflecting on the great pianist-composer all by his lonesome, and New York's Jazz Standard has given over Monk's birth month to a broad swath of tributes to mark this grand occasion. So is it any wonder that the positively precocious Joey Alexander would want to get in on the action?

The arrival of Joey. Monk. Live!, an album that documents Alexander's stand with his trio at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Appel Room in June of 2017, was something of a slap in the face to marketing norms. Rather than provide advanced notice of its approach to sweeten interest and rack up a string of preview pieces and pull quotes for advertisements, it came out of nowhere, a welcome surprise in a world short on such things. What's all the more pleasing is how the prodigious pianist addresses these oft-covered works: Alexander playfully dissects and reassembles Monk's classics, honoring one of our most iconic figures without letting legacy eclipse the present day. One need only hear the first two minutes of the "Round Midnight" opener—one of two solo tracks on the program, along with back-end bookend "Pannonica"—to realize that this is Monk on Alexander's terms. He paves the way toward the familiar melody with wide-eyed curiosity, calling to mind the act of people-watching at noon, not stargazing in the night.

The five tracks that rest between Alexander's solo piano efforts highlight his easy and expansive rapport with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Willie Jones III. "Evidence" swings, skulks, and struts, with all three men getting in on the action, and "Ugly Beauty"—anything but ugly, really—dazzles as Colley and Alexander engage in a pointed dance. Then "Rhythm-A-Ning" gives Jones his due, a marvelously morphing "Epistrophy" gives these three musicians a chance to feel out their spaces and throw a few elbows, and "Straight No Chaser" comes with swagger before Alexander takes charge and channels his idol.

Nobody should be questioning this teenager's jazz standing at this point, what with his previous albums, television appearances, and high profile performances making the case for his true arrival. But if anybody still has any lingering doubts, this one should lay them to rest. Plain and simple, Joey Alexander is the genuine article.

Track Listing: Round Midnight; Evidence; Ugly Beauty; Rhythm-a-Ning; Epistrophy; Straight No Chaser; Pannonica.

Personnel: Joey Alexander: piano; Scott Colley: bass; Willie Jones III: drums.

Title: Joey.Monk.Live! | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Motéma Music


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Formidable CD/LP/Track Review Formidable
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Cochonnerie CD/LP/Track Review Cochonnerie
by John Sharpe
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Smoke CD/LP/Track Review Smoke
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Threes CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 24, 2017
Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Seasons 1-4 Live" CD/LP/Track Review Seasons 1-4 Live
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 6, 2017
Read "Saluting Sgt. Pepper" CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Pocono Git-Down" CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four" CD/LP/Track Review B3tles: A Soulful Tribute To The Fab Four
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Syzygy" CD/LP/Track Review Syzygy
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 6, 2017
Read "The Many Minds of Richie Cole" CD/LP/Track Review The Many Minds of Richie Cole
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 24, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor