Thursday, February 11, 2010

Alexander von Schlippenbach - Monk's Casino (Intakt, 2005)

There have been many tributes to the music of the great pianist and composer Thelonious Monk over the years, but none quite as ambitious as this. German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach arranged the entire Monk songbook for him to play with the excellent German free-bop band Die Enttauschung, which consists of Axel Dorner on trumpet, Rudy Mahall on bass clarinet, Jan Roder on bass and Uli Jenneben on drums. They performed the entire Monk songbook over the course of a single evening at jazz festivals and the A-Trane club in Berlin where this three CD set was recorded. The music itself is outstanding, re-arranged at times to form mini-medleys of songs, or chopped down to just the barest melody, it retains the wit and warmth of the Monk originals while allowing the individual musicians to shine through. Mahall is particularly excellent, his bass clarinet conjures up questions of what it would have been like to hear Thelonious Monk perform with Eric Dolphy. Although there is a lot of music here, it never becomes fatiguing or stale, the musicians always find something fresh to say and take great inspiration and pleasure in interpreting Monk’s unique canon. Monk's Casino -

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