Recorded by Jeff Cressman, november 1st and 2nd, 2004 at Bay Records Recording Studios, Berkeley, California. Mixed by Mark Orton march, 2007 at Camptown Waterton Studios, Portland, Oregon. Artwork by Molly Barker. Design by Federico Cavina. Band portraits by Lenny Gonzalez. All songs by Thelonious Monk (except “Eronel” by Thelonious Monk/Idrees Sulieman/Sadik Hakim). All songs Thelonious Music Corp BMI. Produced by Scott Amendola and Plays Monk. Executive producers Fabrizio Perissinotto and Larry Blood. Mastered by Maurizio Giannotti at Bips Studio, Milano. Special thanks to Fabrizio Perissinotto and Larry Blood. Love to: Ari, Sascha, Allison, Molly, Ethan and Reuben, Nels Cline, Antonio Gottuso, and Thelonious Monk. Scott Amendola plays Craviotto drums, UFIP cymbals, Vic Firth brushes and drumsticks, and Attack drumheads.
Tracklist: 1. Skippy (4:55) 2. Boo Boo’s Birthday (4:06) 3. Work (4:40) 4. Reflections (5:02) 5. Little Rootie Tootie (4:57) 6. Green Chimneys (4:01) 7. Shuffle Boil (2:38) 8. Four In One (4:33) 9. Eronel (5:49) 10. Teo (2:15)
Scott Amendola | click the image to visit his web page…
Ben Goldberg on clarinet, Devin Hoff on bass and Scott Amendola on drums & production. Devin Hoff and Scott Amendola are the great rhythm team for the Nels Cline Singers. Devin, Scott & clarinet wiz, Ben Goldberg, are also members of Nels Cline’s New Monastery / Andrew Hill project. On this rich offering, the trio plays ten Thelonius Monk compositions in their own quirky way. “Skippy” is taken at a brisk tempo and has an infectious, happy vibe. Very nice to hear this trio playing a few of the rarer Monk tunes like “Shuffle Boil” and “Boo Boo’s Birthday”. What makes this disc so fine is the way the trio plays these tunes, all of which were written at and often feature a piano at the center. With spirited versions of “Little Rootie Tootie”, “Four in One” and “Teo”, how can they go wrong? An excellent offering. – BLG
Ben Golderg | click the image to visit his web page…
One of the essential elements in great music is
the enthusiasm of the musicians. If they’re not 100% behind what they’re playing, then why would you care as a listener? There are moments when musicians excell at bringing this enthusiasm with the material across very well, and this CD is an example in case. “Plays Monk” consists of Scott Amendola on drums, Ben Goldberg on clarinet and Devin Hoff on bass, and they bring ten pieces by Monk. And what these guys do, is absolutely fabulous : the rhythm section is re-creating the tunes all by themselves, hard-hitting and very creative and modern with Monk’s material, while Goldberg is trying to keep the original melodies intact, and lifting them even to unknown territory, his clarinet as fast as the right hand of the absent piano-player. Especially Amendola is fierce at times and Hoff’s bass is more often “running” rather than “walking “, because they turn the tempo a notch higher than on the originals. The band’s objective is to find the depth and breadth of Monk’s music and they do it well, “… always aiming for the distilled truth of the music”, as they say themselves. This is indeed music stripped to its barest essence : melody, harmony, rhythm and interplay. And the material is great, and the musicians are great. Pure joy, pure fun! What more do you want? — Stef
Does the world really another trio interpretation of Thelonious Monk’s music?
Well, take one look at the personnel involved here, and you’ll Know this isn’t simply another stab at revivalist orthodoxy. Bassist Devin Hoff, drummer Scott Amendola, and clarinetist Ben Goldberg have worked together and separately in many of the Bay Area’s most interesting groups (Hoff and Amendola are two thirds of the Nels Cline Singers; Goldberg is the newest member in the Tin Hat ensemble) and each is a strong band leader in his own right. They’ve also participated in two of the more intriguing recent homages to jazz masters. All three were members of New Monastery, Nels Cline’s recent homage to Andrew Hill; and Hoff was the bassist on The Door, the Hat, the Chair, the Fact, Goldberg’s tribute to Steve Lacy. Goldberg’s musings on Monk’s music published on the band’s Web site sums up the trio’s approach nicely. “Each song is a unique parable of form, timing, concision, and motion. The musician who investigates this material finds, additionally, a series of interlocking meditations on the fundamentals of melody, harmony, rhythm, and form.” They zero in on Monk’s propulsive motion, angular melodic contours, and skewed sense of time. Rather than attack the heads and then string out a series of solos, they use the melodies as structures for weaving collective improvisation. At any point, any of the members may take the lead. Goldberg’s snaking clarinet may voice the theme which gets shadowed by Hoff’s driving bass. But then Amendola’s tuned drums can step forth to shift focus to the tumbling rhythms as bass and clarinet bubble underneath. Navigating their way through a tunes like “Work,” “Green Chimneys,” or “Four in One,” the improvisations use the forms as a framework for explorations that edge toward freedom without loosing the thread of the melody. Other pieces like “Reflections” or “Skippy” are based on melodic extrapolation. With all pieces in the two to five minute range, the interactions are stripped of excess, while still displaying a relaxed spontaneity. Amendola, Goldberg, and Hoff make the most of Monks book, distilling the essence of the music while making it uniquely their own. — signal to noise
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)