Thelonious Monk is quoted as saying, "the piano ain't got no wrong notes." He most certainly said this in response to the criticism of his approach to both composing and performance. In what sounds blasphemous today, critics and other musicians in the early days of bebop flat out said he couldn't play. Perhaps the lesson here is that nonpareil outliers who maintain the conviction of their methods ultimately prevail. That most certainly is the driving force behind pianist Pandelis Karayorgis' The Hasaan, Hope & Monk Project.
Karayorgis has throughout his career explored Monk's music in solo, duo, and trio formats. Having developed an appetite for Monk's music, a pianist can explore the music of similarly idiosyncratic pianists. Often, their eccentric approaches become less abstruse when set side-by-side with Monk's. Until the year 2021 only one disc The Max Roach Trio Featuring The Legendary Hasaan (Atlantic, 1965) made the pianist Hasaan Ibn Ali available to listeners. We were blessed in 2021 with the discovery of two 'lost' tapes from the 1960s, Metaphysics: The Lost Atlantic Album (Omnivore Recordings, 2021) and Retrospect In Retirement Of Delay: The Solo Recordings (Omnivore Recordings, 2021). Karayorgis has covered Ibn Ali's music in the past, and here he also adds the music of Elmo Hope to this trio session.
Together with longtime collaborators, bassist Nate McBride and drummer Luther Gray, the pianist tackles six Monk compositions, five by Ibn Ali, and three by Hope. The trio takes on the compositions, playing them in a straightforward manner, as if to say that Monk's musicor for that matter Ibn Ali or Hope's compositionsare uncomplicated. It's just that the trio makes them sound so natural and unforced. McBride's extended intro to "Off Minor" tips the ear to the Monkian finger dance to come and the swirl of "Criss Cross," and "Trinkle Tinkle" are comfort food for the soul. Less familiar yet equally as uplifting and heartening are the Ibn Ali and Hope compositions. Each are idiosyncratic and distinct in their approach. Hope's music is fashioned by a lyrical swing and Karayorgis arranges the music for a complete trio sound. Because of their quirkiness, Ibn Ali's compositions might easily be misidentified as those of unheard Monk compositions. His music and that of Hope (or Herbie Nichols for that matter) are well worth preserving, especially in the hands of a trio such as this.
Chips; Work; Atlantic Ones; Off Minor; Abdullah; Evidence; El Hasaan; Criss Cross; Stars Over
Marrakesh; Epitome; Trinkle Tinkle; Viceroy; Think of One.
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