55

Jimmy Owens: The Monk Project

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Jimmy Owens: The Monk Project Who better to pay homage to one of the musical geniuses of the 20th century than seven of today's most idiosyncratic artists? The septet is lead by Jimmy Owens, who is known for his versatility in settings as diverse as swing bands and avant-garde ensembles; most notably, for this undertaking, he organized a concert of Thelonious Monk music at Carnegie Hall in 1974 that featured the legendary pianist himself.

Although The Monk Project features nine of the master's compositions, they are not slavishly reproduced but they serve as inspiration for Owens' loose interpretation. On "Well You Needn't," for example, Owens' muted trumpet introduces the theme in a more lush and fluid style than the original recording, but soon his edgy, free flowing solo follows on the heels of Kenny Barron's angular and dissonant piano flourishes.

Barron, who led Sphere (named after and dedicated to Monk's music) in the 1980s, is much at home with Monk's work, as heard on "Blue Monk," where his keys drip with the deepest of blues—like a barrelhouse pianist, but with a modern and unique bite worthy of the record's honoree. This smoky quality is enhanced by saxophonist Marcus Strickland's gutbucket tenor.

Strickland is also adept at advanced improvisations. On "Let's Cool It," his expansive sound, full of vibrato, is quite stimulating and sets the stage for Owens' own contemplative trumpet explorations. The two carry on an interesting conversation on "Bright Mississippi," which is transformed into a progressive trad-jazz tune (if such a thing existed), covering a wide swatch of jazz history. Howard Johnson's raggedy tuba contributes to this unique atmosphere.

Johnson switches to baritone sax as he punctuates Owens,' meandering and emotive trumpet lines on the languid "Pannonica" and on the intelligently reconstructed "Epistrophy," where he builds crisp and logical series of notes. The star of this, the centerpiece of the album (although it is the last track), is Wycliffe Gordon whose growling trombone embarks on, perhaps the most adventurous of extemporizations, simultaneously earthy and ethereal.

Granted, this disc is not for those who seek to listen to Monk's music as he played it. It is, however, a supremely rewarding experience for those who like to hear the impact he still has, thirty years after his death.


Track Listing: Bright Mississippi; Well You Needn't; Blue Monk; Stuffy Turkey; Pannonica; Let's Cool One; It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing); Brilliant Corners; Reflections; Epistrophy.

Personnel: Jimmy Owens: trumpet, flugelhorn; Wycliffe Gordon: trombone; Marcus Strickland: tenor saxophone; Howard Johnson: tuba, baritone saxophone; Kenny Barron: piano: Kenny Davis: bass; Winard Harper: drums.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: IPO Recordings | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Up and Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Up and Coming
by John Kelman
Published: January 6, 2017
Read "Super Petite" CD/LP/Track Review Super Petite
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 12, 2016
Read "The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure" CD/LP/Track Review The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Live in Seattle" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Seattle
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 25, 2016
Read "Make The Changes" CD/LP/Track Review Make The Changes
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 12, 2016
Read "Collage of Moments" CD/LP/Track Review Collage of Moments
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 17, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!