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Gregory Lewis: Organ Monk Blue

Jerome Wilson By

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Organist Gregory Lewis gained the nickname "Organ Monk" due to his specialization in the music of Thelonious Monk. Known for his exaggerated, florid playing, this is the third CD he's done of Monk's music and this time he has teamed up with a musician who can match him flourish for flourish, chameleon guitarist Marc Ribot.

Lewis' grandiose organ style, with its long sustains and dramatic sweeps, is a force in its own right but Ribot makes things even wilder as he adds intense guitar that shifts gears from track to track. He plays fat, choppy funk on "Green Chimneys," over-the-top blues heroics on "Blue Sphere" and more relaxed blues on "Misterioso." On "Nutty" and "Blues Five Spot" he does lyrical jazz licks like Grant Green and on "Raise Four" he blazes into fast jazz-rock squalling that makes the tune sound like a lost Mahavishnu Orchestra piece.

"Blue Hawk" and "Ba-lue Bolivar" are the sounds of The Meters or Booker T. and the MG's playing Monk, with Jeremy "Bean" Clemons maintaining eminently tight and funky grooves on the drums while Lewis and Ribot wail on top with sliding runs and chicken scratch rhythms. Clemons is an unsung hero throughout the CD, continuously grounding his partners' wild flights with patterns that roll like slow-moving thunder, accented by the occasional thunderous crash.

This is not your conventional organ trio. Ribot and Lewis are both unique musicians and they turn out to be great foils for one another. They play Monk as though they were in some backwoods roadhouse at 1 AM, grooving with a combination of go-for-broke mischief and lowdown, elemental grit. They've put together one of the most delightfully twisted Monk sets out there.

Track Listing: Green Chimneys; Blue Sphere; Raise Four; Misterioso; Blue Hawk; Nutty; Blues Five Spot; Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are.

Personnel: Gregory Lewis: Hammond B3; Marc Ribot: guitar; Jeremy Bean Clemons:drums.

Title: Organ Monk Blue | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

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