Not Your Father’s Big Band

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Not Your Father’s Big Band


On Monk’estra Vol. 1 (Mack Avenue), L.A. keyboardist-composer-arranger John Beasley brings that same kind of boundless energy and fresh vision to the music of Thelonious Monk. Opening with a reinvention of “Epistrophy” performed by his stellar 21-piece band of first-call L.A. studio musicians, and featuring a glistening solo from guest vibist Gary Burton, Beasley and crew jump into a sprightly rendition of “Skippy” that has drummer Gary Novak shifting from slamming back beats to second line groove to 4/4 swing mode. A chill take on “Oska T” contains a voice excerpt from a rare Monk interview and features outstanding trumpet work by Gabriel Johnson. Beasley puts his stamp on the dynamic, swinging second half of the piece, which includes a bracing solo from trombonist Francisco Torres. “Monk’s Processional” is a funky N’awlins brass band breakdown of “Green Chimneys” while a hip-hop take on “’Round Midnight” may seem irreverent to some and relevant to others. Harmonica ace Gregoire Maret guests on a wholly re-imagined version of one of Monk’s most hauntingly beautiful ballads, “Ask Me Now,” while Beasley harmonizes the horns on a jauntily swinging “Little Rootie Tootie,” one of many remarkably ambitious arrangements here.

Read the full piece from: The Absolute Sound

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