4

Greg Lewis / Organ Monk: Uwo in the Black

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Greg Lewis / Organ Monk: Uwo in the Black Many a jazz musician visits the territory of pianist Thelonious Monk for a short spell, but organist Greg Lewis seems to have signed up for an extended stay. His Organ Monk (Self Produced, 2010) proved to be a completely original and exciting take on the music of the man affectionately and reverently called the High Priest of Bop, but Lewis didn't linger on this success. He buckled down and put together a sequel that is every bit as enjoyable, though different from its recorded predecessor.

Organ Monk 1.0 was a trio powered by Cindy Blackman's bruising drumming, Lewis' broad-ranging organ ideals and guitarist Ron Jackson's clean-and-direct sound. The new incarnation of this group adds Monk's horn companion of choice, the tenor saxophone, to the mix and features the drumming of Nasheet Waits, who's equally creative, but not nearly as bombastic as Blackman. These two changes make for a completely different listening experience.

Much of Organ Monk was built on the connection between drums and organ, but the Blackman-Lewis partnership was often built on a foundation of simultaneous and competitive discourse; Watts and Lewis are a more conversational and respectful coupling. They engage in three duo affairs that point to this fact—Monk's namesake tune ("Thelonious"), a loose and woozy twilight stroll ("Crepuscule With Nellie") and a Lewis original ("Zion's Walk")—and their connection is ever-palpable across the other numbers.

Reginald R. Woods follows in the footsteps of John Coltrane, Johnny Griffin and Charlie Rouse as he paints atop the quirky backgrounds endemic to Monk's music. His sound has a bit of Texas tenor gruffness, but with a brighter tone. His soloing is the highlight of the infrequently performed "Stuffed Turkey" and his out-of-place energy on "Bright Mississippi" contrasts nicely with Jackson's appropriately mellow spot.

While Lewis makes Monk's music his first priority here, he also throws a few originals into the mix. The melodious "GCP" is a clear standout, but "In The Black—My Nephew" takes the prize for most powerful performance. This dirge-like number starts out like a sleeping bird, but evolves into a fire-breathing dragon. Long-building tension, with an eventual slumbering release, describes the dramatic arc of the music, but words are no substitute for hearing this one.

Creating two different, high quality works on the same topic is no easy feat, but Lewis has pulled it off. Organ Monk was one hell of an eye-opener, but Uwo In The Black is even better. Ingenuity stuck to Thelonious Monk throughout the majority of his career, and it seems to be hovering over Lewis as explores the master's rich and deep catalog.


Track Listing: Little Rootie Tootie; In The Black – My Nephew; Humph; Skippy; Ugly Beauty; Zion's Walk; GCP; Stuffy Turkey; Bright Mississippi; Thelonious; Why Not; Crepuscule With Nellie; Teo; 52nd Street Theme.

Personnel: Greg Lewis: Hammond C-3 organ; Ron Jackson: guitar; Reginald R. Woods: tenor saxophone; Nasheet Waits: drums.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced | 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 "A Night Walking Through Mirrors" CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Now Hear This!" CD/LP/Track Review Now Hear This!
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 7, 2017
Read "Wede Harer Guzo" CD/LP/Track Review Wede Harer Guzo
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: May 28, 2016
Read "Big City Love" CD/LP/Track Review Big City Love
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 24, 2016
Read "Mu" CD/LP/Track Review Mu
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 30, 2016
Read "Altered Narratives" CD/LP/Track Review Altered Narratives
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 2, 2016

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!