Several years ago Thelonious Sphere Monk III (AKA T.S. Monk), son of the one and only Thelonious Sphere Monk, entered the jazz scene after a stint in the pop music field. He has since released some fine albums but until now has not devoted an entire recording to the music of his legendary father. Monk on Monk
explores nine of the elder Monk's compositions arranged for large ensemble by trumpeter Don Sickler.
A bevy of jazz legends gathered to assist T.S. Monk on this project. Wayne Shorter contributes a hauntingly fragile soprano sax reading of "Crepescule With Nellie." Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter are wonderful on "Two Timer" (a never-before-recorded Monk tune) and there are fine solos from Roy Hargrove, Wallace Roney, Jimmy Heath, Clark Terry, Bobby Watson, Grover Washington, Jr. and others. And there are vocal turns by Kevin Mahogany (a languid "Ruby My Dear") and Nnenna Freelon and Dianne Reeves on a playful scat-filled version of "In Walked Bud" (re-titled "Suddenly" for the version with lyrics). T.S. Monk plays a supporting role here, content to lay down a solid drum groove and let the guest soloists have the spotlight.
Sickler's arrangements suggest a big band sound in fullness but the reed and brass sections never overpower the music. Sickler takes a few liberties with the rhythms of "Little Rootie Tootie" and makes it even more Monkish. The choice of tunes is inspired, primarily featuring songs which Thelonious Monk wrote in honor of family members and friends. T.S. Monk has offered up a loving tribute to the complex genius he knew as "Dad."
Monk on Monk also contains an enhanced portion which you can play on your computer. It features interviews with T.S. Monk and rehearsal footage.