2. Lulu's Back in Town
3. Nice Work If You Can Get It
5. I Should Care
6. Tea for Two
7. Everything Happens to Me
8. Just a Gigolo
9. Don't Blame Me
10. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Greg Lewis – Hammond B3 Organ
Ron Jackson – Guitar
Riley Mullins – Trumpet
Reggie Woods – Tenor sax
Jeremy Bean Clemons – Drums, cymbals
Greg Lewis formed his Organ Monk group to show how
the music of Thelonious Monk could be adapted for a Hammond organ
combo. We have reviewed his second album on this website (
) and our reviewer was satisfied with the results. Lewis seemed
to suggest that the second album was part of a trilogy devoted to
Monk, but this third album switches course to tackle some jazz standards,
with nary a composition by Thelonious Monk.
However, the tunes are all standards that Monk played at various times, and a Monkish mood is certainly imparted to Liza, where the rhythm and
harmonies are dislocated in Thelonious’ style. Drummer Jeremy Clemons adds plenty of excitement, although his disjointed beats often disrupt the rhythm
instead of emphasising it. Reggie Woods supplies a swirling sax solo, and trumpeter Riley Mullins hits plenty of high notes, although his solo lacks
cohesion. Greg Lewis’s solo doesn’t quite convince that the Hammond organ can produce a Monkish style.
Nice Work If You Can Get It
works better, mixing out-of-tempo passages with straight 4/4. The trumpet solo again seems intent on ear-splitting, while the saxist is more
listener-friendly. The trumpeter is less frenetic in I Should Care, although some notes still miss their targets.
Ron Jackson’s guitar comes to the fore in Tea for Two and Just a Gigolo. The former starts as if the organist is trying to destroy the
melody. Subtlety is not Greg Lewis’s strong point, and I don’t particularly like the rather grating sound he gets out of the Hammond B3. Where Monk often
played economically, Lewis too often generates a swathe of sound. But the guitar solos in both these numbers are more conventional, with attractive echoes
of Wes Montgomery in Just a Gigolo.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
sums up this group’s strengths and weaknesses. The free-form introduction leading into some devilish discords shows how they have taken Thelonious Monk’s
adventurous approach and adapted it for new uses. But the solos tend to lose the shape and sense of the original melody, so one wonders what point there is
in improvising on jazz standards if so little of them survives. It seems that Thelonious had more respect for these tunes.