14

Tim Warfield: Spherical: Dedicated to Thelonious Sphere Monk

Andrew Luhn By

Sign in to view read count
Tim Warfield: Spherical: Dedicated to Thelonious Sphere Monk
Thelonious Monk tribute albums are certainly nothing new in the jazz world. As early as 1961, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin recorded Lookin' at Monk and pianist Bud Powell recorded Portrait of Thelonious. Even while his career was still going strong, Monk's importance as a composer and influence on other jazz musicians was already clear. Today Monk's legendary status as one of jazz's most important figures is still clear. As far as I know, there is no hard data to back up the fact, but few jazz artists would argue with the claim that Monk is probably the most-covered jazz composer of all time.

On this most recent outing, Spherical, saxophonist Tim Warfield tackles music written and inspired by Monk. With seven previous releases on the Criss Cross label and multiple appearances as a sideman, Warfield returns to the label with a cast of familiar names for his dedication to Thelonious Sphere Monk. Joining Warfield on this album is trumpet legend Eddie Henderson, making his first re-appearance on the label since 1998. Ben Wolfe and Clarence Penn take the bass and drums chairs, respectively. The choice of pianist is obviously an important one on any work dedicated to Monk, and Warfield could not have filled the position with a better choice than Orrin Evans. Without ever sounding like he is trying to directly emulate Monk, Evans channels the spirit and humor of his idiosyncratic playing.

The album opens with Monk's slow swing blues "Bluehawk." Evans begins the soloing with a succinct but characteristic solo that centers around intervallic leaps and disjointed, crooked melodies. Warfield follows for an equally entertaining solo, creating an interesting sound between his full-bodied, Coltrane-esque tenor sound and his Monk-like stabs of melodic abstraction. Penn holds the band together, keeping constantly on top of Wolfe's rock-steady walking line while also keeping up a constant dialogue with the soloists.

The second track, "Oska T" is also a standout with the band hammering out Monk's simple, but memorable melody. Here Henderson takes the first solo and shines brilliantly with plenty of playful interplay with Evans. The band presents two takes of Monk's classic "Off Minor" which move freely in very different directions after the forceful statement of the melody. The second take morphs into a feel that almost seems to channel the classic Coltrane quartet during Warfield's intense solo.

Warfield switches over to soprano for a delicate re-working of "Ugly Beauty" in which the band shows off its restraint and lyricism. Also on the delicate side of things, is the album closer, a faithful reading of "Round Midnight" that lets Warfield take the spotlight with his soulful, meaty tone and intimate vibrato.

Though the idea is nothing new, the approach and treatment of this Monk tribute album is exceptional. Warfield and co. make the classic tunes their own and draw inspiration and attitude from the mentality of Monk. They approach the music with a sense of adventure and playfulness that draws the listener in and holds his attention. Fans of Monk won't be disappointed, nor will fans of any of the members of this band.

Track Listing

Blue Hawk; Oska T; That Old Man; Gallop's Gallop; Off Minor I; Ugly Beauty; Coming on the Hudson; Off Minor II; 'Round Midnight

Personnel

Tim Warfield: Tenor sax, Soprano sax; Eddie Henderson: Trumpet; Orrin Evans: Piano; Ben Wolfe: Bass; Clarence Penn: Drums

Album information

Title: Spherical: Dedicated to Thelonious Sphere Monk | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Criss Cross

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Earth
Earth
Dave Liebman
Read Urban(e)
Urban(e)
Mike Fahie Jazz Orchestra
Read Hiding Place
Hiding Place
Mark Murphy, Folk Artist
Read The Truce
The Truce
Markus Reuter
Read Data Lords
Data Lords
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Read In Igma
In Igma
Pedro Melo Alves
Read Blood Moon
Blood Moon
Ingrid Laubrock + Kris Davis

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.