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Chromatic Harmonica Virtuoso Randy Weinstein Explores Seven Of Monk’s Enduring Favorites On 'HarmoniMonk'

For one of the most unusual sets ever recorded of Thelonious Monk’s music, the jazz and blues harmonica great Randy Weinstein explores seven of Monk’s enduring favorites on HarmoniMonk. Teamed on various selections with guitar, tuba, bass and drums, Weinstein creates a unique tribute to the masterful pianist-composer.
Randy Weinstein
Randy Weinstein is a veteran musician who has mastered both the chromatic and diatonic harmonicas, performing jazz, blues and other styles of music in his career.

When the COVID epidemic hit, Weinstein used his free time to become expert at recording techniques, and to dedicate himself to recording Thelonious Monk compositions, but in his own way.

For HarmoniMonk, Weinstein performs fresh and memorable renditions of seven of Monk’s pieces, creating inventive arrangements that cast a new light on the vintage works.

For the opener, “Bright Mississippi” (Monk’s reinvention of “Sweet Georgia Brown”), Weinstein utilizes a catchy rhythm that is quite infectious along with the strong talents of guitarist Michaela Gomez. “Straight No Chaser” is turned into a New Orleans romp with George Rush’s tuba interacting joyfully with Weinstein. Gomez returns for a rhythmic and riff-filled rendition of “In Walked Bud” that is quite exhilarating. “Bye-Ya” features Randy Weinstein’s harmonica accompanied by Clyde Stubblefield’s drum samples. “Ruby, My Dear” is performed as a pretty ballad with guitarist Pete Smith. It serves as a contrast to the dense ensembles of “Off Minor” which have Richard Huntley on drums and percussion along with the harmonicas and keyboards of Weinstein making the music quite orchestral. HarmoniMonk concludes with “Green Chimneys,” a swinging closer with bassist George Rush.

Randy Weinstein has had a wide-ranging musical career including working with jazz combos, Appalachian fiddle bands, blues groups, hand-percussion units, and World Music ensembles. He spent seven years in Chicago where he developed his blues harp style, inspired by Dave Waldman and Little Walter Jacobs. Now based in New York, Weinstein eventually became so interested in Thelonious Monk’s music that he has made it his goal to record all 70 Monk compositions, some of which had never been performed by a harmonica player.

With its emphasis on melodic development (keeping the themes in mind rather than just jamming on the chord changes), colorful arrangements, and surprising moments, there is little doubt that RandyWeinstein’s HarmoniMonk would have been enjoyed by Thelonious Monk.

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Track Listing

Bright Mississippi; Bye-Ya; Green Chimneys; In Walked Bud ; Off Minor; Ruby My Dear.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Randy Weinstein Chromatic and diatonic harmonicas, Lekholm DM 48, MIDI Controller (fake bass flutes, fake fretless bass), keyboard, percussion arrangements; Clyde Stubblefield: drum samples from “Clyde Stubblefield - The Original Funky Drummer” sample collection.

Album information

Title: HarmoniMonk | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Random Chance Records


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