Nobody can deny the distinctive signature of Thelonious Monk‘s music. Written for simple piano, bass, and drums, it is a remarkable blending of melody, harmony, and rhythm. Now, expand his conception into a quintet setting and the challenge as Monk would say, to “lift the bandstand,” presents itself to the musicians and arrangers.
Assigning such a task to six distinguished graduates of The Thelonious Monk Institute Of Jazz finds the music in great hands. Featuring a core quintet of Helen Sung (piano), Alan Hampton (bass), James Alsenders (drums), Wayne Escoffery (tenor saxophone), Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet) and adding vocalist Gretchen Parlato on one track, the group recorded six Monk classic compositions and four original tracks. The music was produced by North Coast Brewing Company, maker of a very nice dark Belgian-style ale called Brother Thelonious, with a painting of Monk on the label, piously dressed as a monk.
All the proceeds of the sale of this fabulous disc go The Thelonious Monk Institute Of Jazz, as if we need another reason to pour a cold one when listening to Brother Thelonious.