John Beasley: Presents MONK’estra Vol. 1

LA fixture John Beasley has been having this big band perform clever readings of Monk tunes locally for a few years; he finally decided to share it with the rest of the world. It’s a beaut!

The band includes some of the finest from the West Coast, including Bob Sheppard/sax, Danny Janklow/as, Tom Peterson/reeds, Gary Novak/dr and Brian Swartz/tp. Gary Burton does a guest appearance with a vibes solo between some wonderfully gurgling reeds on “Epistrophy” and Gregoire Maret’s harmonica veers in and out of some Ellingtonian harmonics with reeds and brass during a solvent “Ask Me Now.”

Beasley does some real clever work on these vintage pieces, such as adding a hip  hop urban drum groove to “’Round Midnight” and mixing James Bond accents to a synth and irresistible mambo groove to “Little Rootie Tootie.” Monk’s voice is used along with some bass and electric and some film noir trumpet work on “Oska” while the section swagger with delight to Sheppard’s’ alto and soprano work on “Skippy”. The entire album just bubbles over with joy, adding new colors and styles as fresh as the hats on Thelonious Monk’s head.

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