Pianist Brian Trainor salutes Thelonious Monk by interpreting four of the legendary artist’s compositions and supplying several of his own. Choosing to work with his piano trio on most tracks (bassist Vince Fay and drummer Bill Jones), the native of Trenton, New Jersey catches fire with a percussive approach that honors both Monk’s quirky piano style and his unpredictable compositions.
Guest trumpeter John Swana opts for electronic valve instrument on "Hackensack." Fitting the role and range of a floating soprano saxophone, he blends with the quartet, offering a timbre similar to that of an electronic keyboard. Stiff and lacking overtones, Swana drives, nevertheless, with a trumpeter’s phrasing and attack. Veterans Richie Cole and Steve Marcus trade fours to begin and end "Well You Needn’t," leaving the in-between for an inspired Trainor piano tirade. The pianist picks up similar inspiration for "Straight, No Chaser," the session’s high point.
A dedication is made to the annual Cape May Jazz Festival in Cape May, New Jersey. With his impressionistic composition, Trainor captures an image of freeway driving, except that this particular freeway never slows. The two mixes at the end of the album are nearly identical to the related tracks heard earlier on; just extended in length through added solo space. While Trainor turns up the heat in spots, the session remains uneven through pitch problems on the portrait to Mother Teresa and "Still We Dream," reducing the effectiveness of this well-intended tribute.
Brian Trainor- piano; Vince Fay, Tyrone Brown, Gary Mazzaropi- bass; Bill Jones, Jeff Jerolamon, Jim Miller- drums; Steve Marcus- tenor saxophone on "Let