T.S. Monk

Take One

Blue Note, 1992

Very nice neo-bop outing elevated from the crowd by an unconventional selection of tunes and interesting, lively arrangements (credited to Monk and trumpeter Don Sickler). The band is a sextet with Sickler, Bobby Porcelli (alto), Willie Williams (tenor), Ronnie Mathews (piano), James Genus (bass) and the junior Monk on drums. Monk credits Max Roach as his mentor, and it shows! In fact uptempo numbers like "Infra-Rae" have an energy that reminds me of the Brown/Roach band. The arrangements take advantage of the three horns to create almost big-band like textures, as on "Waiting". The slick-yet-tough sound of the arrangments reminds me a little of Quincy Jones.

As for the tune selection, while none are new, only "Round Midnight" really qualifies as a standard. There are two somewhat less known compositions by the senior Monk ("Skippy" and "Think of One"), two from Kenny Dorham ("Monaco" and "Minor's Holiday"), and one apiece from Elmo Hope, Hank Mobley, Clifford Jordan and several others. Despite the presence of three tunes by the senior Monk, comparisons to the leader's famous father shouldn't be overdone -- Mathews doesn't sound much like Monk, nor does he try to, and T.S. succeeds here on his own abilities and those of his ensemble. All the soloists are good, but I especially enjoy Sickler and his clear, open tone.

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