5. `Round Midnight
7. Gallop's Gallop
9. Dear Ruby (Ruby, My Dear)
10. Ba-lues Bolivar Ba-lues-are
Eric Reed – Piano
Seamus Blake – Tenor sax
Ben Williams – Bass
Gregory Hutchinson – Drums
Charenee Wade – Vocals (track 9)
Eric Reed has already investigated the compositions
of Thelonious Monk in two albums: The Dancing Monk (which
I reviewed here in 2011)
and The Baddest Monk from 2012. As befits its title, this
third album seems to take a more adventurous approach to Monk’s music,
sometimes taking such liberties with tunes that they are hard to recognize.
The band jumps in medias res with Thelonious, an up-tempo rouser with a swirling tenor sax solo by Seamus Blake. Here and throughout the
album, drummer Gregory Hutchinson keeps the temperature high with his extremely busy drumming – a rather different, more assertive style from what we have
previously heard from Greg.
As the album progresses, the interpretations of Thelonious’ tunes grow ever more abstract. Most of Monk’s compositions are convoluted enough, so one might
question if it is necessary to give them several extra twists. In fact Evidence is close to free improvisation, with occasional hints of Tea for Two. Round Midnight sticks slightly closer to the original, although the melody is referred to, rather than played
This adventurous approach makes the music intriguing but not always very accessible. It’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, which dares the
listener to pursue it and attempt to unravel it. Whereas Eric Reed’s first Monk CD tended to smooth out some of his tunes, this album dislocates them
further. It’s The Adventurous Monk and you need to be an adventurous listener to penetrate its depths.
The sleeve-note tells us that “Eric Reed wears Claude Bernard
watches exclusively”. Just what we wanted to know.