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A guitarist with a mastery of his instrument's fretboard, Elliott Sharp goes beyond pedestrian picking and strumming for a percussive and pianistic effect that has to be seen to be believed. In fact, Sharp's approach to his instrument is in many ways more reminiscent of a pianist than a guitarist. It is no surprise, then, that the material on his unique tribute to Thelonious, Sharp? Monk? Sharp! Monk!, fits Sharp's style to perfection, allowing him to give a new look to some of the master's best known tunes.
The five classics presented here are taken through their paces with a lovely bluesy feel that permeates the entire session. Sharp's acoustic guitar is featured solo throughout and he is able to stretch out on his arrangements, across a variety of tempos, to explore intimately these familiar lines like no one before him. Monk's quirkiness translates exceedingly well to Sharp's style, whose combination of speed and blues conjures up memories of when tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin joined Monk's quartet with bassist Ahmed Abdul Malik and drummer Roy Haynes.
"Misterioso seemingly has Sharp with all four of these players in his two hands, while "Well You Needn't is given a country blues and slide treatment. In between, he elegantly dances the "Bemsha Swing, slowly descends into "Round Midnight, and burns through "Epistophy. Sharp's catalogue to date is a potpourri of inventive music that has crisscrossed styles and genres; this same creativity is much in evidence on this singularly exceptional reinvention of Monk archetypes.
Track Listing: Misterioso; Well You Needn't; Bemsha Swing; Round Midnight; Epistrophy.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.