Paul Motian & The Electric Bebop Band: Play Monk and Powell

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
When you think about Thelonious Monk's or Bud Powell’s music, you think of the piano, the instrument of choice for those two eccentric legends. Drummer Paul Motian adopts a different approach to Monk and Powell with his piano-less Electric Bebop Band.

The name might lead you to believe that this is a fusion outfit, but its music is actually straight-ahead jazz of a very modern variety. Motian’s group includes two electric guitarists (Kurt Rosenwinkel and Steve Cardenas), an electric bassist (the great Steve Swallow) and two tenor saxmen (Chris Potter and Chris Cheek).

Play Monk and Powell is a surprisingly clean-sounding effort given the jerky tempos and angular melodies conceived by Monk and Powell. The rhythm-master Motian leads the way with his varying rhythms, while his sextet experiments with interweaving lines and imaginative solos. Creative as these renderings are, they remain completely faithful to the spirits of the two composers.

Many bands that cover Monk tend to exaggerate the quirky side of his music. Motian and company play it straighter here and bring out the full depth and beauty of the compositions. The five Monk covers sound slightly more interesting to me, but the four Powell tunes fit in nicely. The band’s version of Monk’s "Brilliant Corners" is especially good, as guitars, bass and saxophones converge then diverge, stop then start up again. "Rootie Tootie" is played at a furious tempo, while Powell’s "Wail" bops relentlessly.

The players in the Electric Bebop Band are huge talents, both when soloing and in combination. Everybody shines on these angular tunes, but Steve Swallow’s pure-sounding bass and Chris Potter’s lithe sax deserve special commendation.

Play Monk and Powell is another excellent release from a veteran drummer who always makes interesting music.


Paul Motian: Drums: Steve Swallow; Electric Bass: Chris Cheek; Tenor Sax: Chris Potter; Tenor Sax: Kurt Rosenwinkel; Electric Guitar: Steve Cardenas; Electric Guitar.

The Allegro Corporation provides distribution in North America.

Title: Play Monk and Powell | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Winter & Winter


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Float Upstream CD/LP/Track Review Float Upstream
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 26, 2017
Read Extremophile CD/LP/Track Review Extremophile
by John Sharpe
Published: September 26, 2017
Read Setembro CD/LP/Track Review Setembro
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 26, 2017
Read The Source CD/LP/Track Review The Source
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 26, 2017
Read Aqustico vol 2 CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read "Out 'N' In" CD/LP/Track Review Out 'N' In
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "Resonance" CD/LP/Track Review Resonance
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Glenn Gould in Russia: Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Webern, Krenek" CD/LP/Track Review Glenn Gould in Russia: Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Webern, Krenek
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 16, 2017
Read "Post Cool: Vol 1 The Night Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Post Cool: Vol 1 The Night Shift
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Groovin' Hard: Live At The Penthouse 1964-1968" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin' Hard: Live At The Penthouse 1964-1968
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2017
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by John Sharpe
Published: November 11, 2016

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.