Friday, February 06, 2004

Thelonious Moog – Yes, We Didn’t (Grown Up, 2003)

Thelonious Moog consists of Steve Million and Joe "Guido" Welsh playing the compositions of Thelonious Monk on vintage synthesizers, backed by a few side men playing bass, drums and other sundry instruments. This music is not for the straight laced jazz snob without a sense of humor because while it is not strictly speaking a novelty item, liberties are definitely taken with the music.

“Off Minor” jumps out of the speakers with layers of synthesizers that lend a mod-60’s movie feel to the music. “Bye-Ya” on the other hand plays Monk’s staccato melody with a series of quack like notes. Imagine Carmen McRae as a duck singing Monk. The melody of “We See” comes off as a science fiction theme; you can almost imagine this playing in the background of an old Star Trek episode. “Yes We Didn’t” samples spoken word over a medley of Monk compositions, it’s fun stuff and obvious that these guys don’t take themselves too seriously.

These descriptions aren’t meant to scare you off, on the contrary, Monk’s melodies are durable and they are treated with the utmost respect by the musicians. These guys really know their Monk (and their Moog too!) and manage to have a lot of fun without turning the music into a parody.

Rating: 8

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