IF MONK WERE A FREE-BOPPER…Eva Novoa: Butterflies and Zebras by Ditmas Quartet

Here’s an intriguing album that either answers the question, or at least delivers it; what if Thelonious Monk went left of center later in his career and embraced free jazz? The team of Eva Novoa/p-key, Michael Attias/as, Max Johnson/b and Jeff Davis/dr mix the angular mirth and melodious instincts  of the Spherical one with a prismatic approach to delivery.

There are pieces such as the tricky but incessantly swinging “Spicy Water” that have hints of the sharp edges of a Monk tune such as “Brilliant Corners” with Attias and Novoa weaving in and out of the melody like Fiats in Naples. Novoa’s ectomorphic touch is both explorative, extrapolating and exciting as she and Attias’ pungent alto appear like a rolling ball of yarn that slowly unravels downhill and somehow rewinds on “The Drone” and the frenetic “Pre-Nerve Scale.” There’s also fun and buoyant grooves as Johnson and Davis snap like celery sticks on the hiply swinging “Jack Nicholson” and the playful “Justin” and the team frees up under Novoa’s ivories during the G forces of “La Part Maudite.” The last Monk mood is his underappreciated solemnity, and it is reflected here during Novoa’s shadow casting with the Rhodes keyboard on “No Direction” as Attias draws the curtains with his eerie reed.

A real original approach to freeing up bebop while still retaining its core Sphere.

Fresh Sound Records



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