Wednesday, March 09, 2011

ASA Trio – Plays the Music of Thelonious Monk (Self-Released, 2011)

The ASA Trio is an exciting organ trio based in Iceland consisting of Andres Thor on guitar, Scott McLemore on drums and Agnar Mar Magnusson on Hammond B-3 organ. This ambitious group has played music ranging from rock ‘n’ roll to John Coltrane’s epic suite A Love Supreme. On this album they tackle the tricky but always interesting music of pianist and composer Thelonious Monk. Monk’s angular and exotic music translates very well to the organ group with the rounded sounds of the organ and subtle guitar taking off some of the rough edges of the music, but not altering the music’s complexity or impish sense of humor. All three musicians work together very well to realize the music, McLemore’s steady pulse locks in with the bass lines coming from the organ, while Magnússon swirls and sways, taking great joy and energy from the wonderful Monk melodies. Andres Thor has a nice subtle sound on guitar, comping well underneath the organ and soloing at length with a firm and invigorating sound. They sound great on some of the more well known songs from the Monk canon like the opening “Bemsha Swing” and “Straight No Chaser” but also burrow deeper into the songbook for more rarely played songs like “San Francisco Holiday” and the subtle “Ugly Beauty.” This was a well played album that should appeal not just to organ groove aficionados, but to all those who enjoy the music of the great composer. Hearing Monk’s music is different formats like this reveal the versatility and timelessness of the music. ASA Trio – Plays the Music of Thelonious Monk.

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