Thelonious Monk's music has been more misunderstood and misinterpreted than most composers.' How you play Monk's music is just as important as what you play, and what you don't play is often just as important as what you do.
"The first Monk song I heard was when I was about 14it was 'Off Minor' by his septet," recalls Terry Adams, founder and keyboardist for the New Rhythm & Blues Quartet (NRBQ). "I had begun to figure out some things about music I was hearing, such as the I, IV or V chord and then beyond. But after hearing Monk, suddenly I knew nothing. It was a great mystery that sounded wonderful."
But there's no mystery about Talk Thelonious: NRBQ+ plays Terry Adams arrangements of Thelonious Monk Songs. Captured live at a 2012 performance with the full band and a few special guests, its wonderful magic is obvious. Adams' solo piano conjures "Monk's Mood," joined in its spell by harmonica which floats in like an overhanging blue cloud, then turns into the melancholy red and orange shades of dusk from pedal steel.
"Hornin' In" sum up Monk's stride piano roots and rocking rhythms, while its harmonizing horns capture his unique voicings, all in three playful minutes, and his arrangement of "Think of One" wobbles and skips, melodically and rhythmically, in all the right places.
The live tracks culminate in Monk's classic "Straight, No Chaser," rendered in a jaunty country two-step with pedal steel and finger picking that would spread a slow smile over even Monk's often stern countenance. Talk Thelonious closes with its one studio track, Adams' extensive and romantic arrangement that breathes lush new life into "Ruby, It's You." "'Ruby' is something I've been working on since I was a teenager," Adams admits.
You can more than hear, you can genuinely feel, Adams' love and respect for this music through every note. "After almost fifty years of listening, studying, and being spiritually open to this music, I had the pleasure of arranging the way it felt right in my soul," he explains. Talk Thelonious: NRBQ+ plays Terry Adams arrangements of Thelonious Monk Songs certainly proves worth its fifty year wait.
Reflections; Hornin’ In; In Walked Bud; That Old Man; Humph; Think of
One; Aske Me Now; Ugly Beauty; Gallops’s Gallop; Straight, No Chaser;
Ruby, My Dear.
Terry Adams: piano, pipe organ; Scott Ligon: guitar, Hammond organ,
percussion; Jim Hoke: alto saxophone, harmonica, pedel steel guitar,
ocarina; Klem Klimek: alto and tenor saxophones; Pete Donnelly:
electric bass; Pete Toigo: bass; Conrad Choucroun: drums.
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