DIGIPAK DE-LUXE EDITION
4 stars on Down Beat Magazine - April 2012
Last year I blinked in semi-disbelief when I made reference to legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini and found it unrecognized on the ears of a classically trained student at a major university.
Even after a century of recording, a great performance is still in the moment while the composition and composer are often forever. It explains why Thelonious Monk remains such a powerful imprint in jazz today. Every Monk tribute that comes along makes it stronger.
Jimmy Owens and company nourish Monk, and Monk frames their work in a much-honored identity. If Owens seems to be looking back, he’s doing it through a very special lens that sees around period incidentals. Then again, Monk himself looked back through his own lenses.
“Bright Mississippi” condenses and collapses “Sweet Georgia Brown” into a series of clipped stepping stones. Owens makes it a brisk midtempo swing. “Blue Monk” is a simple line so remote in antiquity, it eludes authorship entirely, though Charlie Shavers copyrighted it in 1938 as “Pastel Blue” with a slight variation.
Normally played in slow legato drawl, here it’s more staccato with a strong shuffle and afterbeat that’s catnip for Wycliffe Gordon’s audacious plunger snarls and whoops. Owens never recorded with Monk. But he brings the experience and understanding of a first generation disciple. Gordon, Marcus Strickland and Kenny Barron know where all the treasures are squirreled away. Owens and Gordon make a striking blend dueting on “Reflections.” Halfway into “Brilliant Corners” Owens surpasses himself, soloing with deep feeling on the tune’s tricky contours.
—John McDonough, Down Beat magazine, April 2012
JIMMY OWENS, trumpet, flugelhorn
WYCLIFFE GORDON, trombone
MARCUS STRIKLAND, tenor sax
HOWARD JOHNSON, tuba, baritone sax
KENNY BARRON, piano
KENNY DAVIS, bass
WINARD HARPER, drums
Recorded in New York, 2011.
01. Bright Mississippi
02. Well You Needn’t
03. Blue Monk
04. Stuffy Turkey
06. Let’s Cool One
07. It Don’t Mean A Think (If It Ain’)
08. Brilliant Corners