The music of Thelonious Monk has been constructed, reconstructed and deconstructed over the years. Some players have tried to ape him, which is quite natural, but not necessarily successful. Others have filtered his music through their own prisms and have succeeded in introducing different constructs.
Among the latter group are Chuck Bernstein, Si Perkoff, and Sam Bevanknown as Monk's Music Trio, a name that makes their reason for their being quite clear. On this, their third outing, they bring in trombonists Roswell Rudd and Max Perkoff, the gentlemen responsible for Monk's bones. And if it must be said, Perkoff got the idea for the name from a book on Duke Ellington's trombonists called Duke's Bones.
What is it that makes this music relevant and different? For one, the use of the berimbau on "Friday the 13th. The single-string instrument resonates in the Delta blues, Bernstein tapping the feel and then getting the percussive shakers to add to the motif. His playing is inspired, entering a different dimension, and for certain it would make Monk salivate. The tune spins as the trombones come in and churn blues and funk into a dizzying sphere.
The trombones orchestrate a slow motion intro to "Blue Monk. But this, one of Monk's most beautiful and melodic tunes, gets its blues blooding from Perkoff, whose inventive runs sit on the edge of deliberation. Roswell, who has played Monk before with compelling results, uses a wah-wah to growl out his solo, quite contrary to Perkoff's smooth approach. In countenance, the two strike sides that later channel into an edgy, angular and exciting dialogue. The swell breaks out on "Little Rootie Tootie, the trombones trading phrases with the piano, the bass ticking below, the drums driving the pulse. Rudd sounds earthy and in character; Si Perkoff takes off on a melodic excursion, stamping his journey with points of exclamation. The whole makes for one intoxicating ride, like this engaging and heady recording.