T. S. Monk, Two Continents One Groove, Storyville ****

Like a fine wine kept in the cellars until the time is right for a precious sip Two Continents One Groove is swinging, grooving, jostling, saluting, testifying and a whole lot more all shaped by bebop because there is a direct link to the 20th …

Published: 8 Jun 2022. Updated: 27 days.

Monk-1_photo Mathew Webber

Like a fine wine kept in the cellars until the time is right for a precious sip Two Continents One Groove is swinging, grooving, jostling, saluting, testifying and a whole lot more all shaped by bebop because there is a direct link to the 20th century-changing sound given birth to in Harlem by among others his father Thelonious Monk, drummer T. S. Monk revels in a direct-from-the source Max Roach rhythm raison d'être at the heart of this sextet live affair recorded in 2014 at Ginny's Supper Club, Harlem, and in 2016 at the Marians Jazzroom in the Swiss city of Bern.

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With Toot are the Charlie Rouse-and-éminence grise-of-the-band, Willie Williams, on tenor saxophone, Kenny Davis on bass, trumpeter Josh Evans, multi-reedist Patience Higgins and pianist Helen Sung. Victor Feldman and Miles Davis classic 'Seven Steps to Heaven' is streaming ahead of release and features some blistering soloing from Evans and a t(r)inkle in the intro from Sung that wrinkles into your ears and enchants. Counting in 'Chessmen's Delight' heralds a raucous energy that shakes us agreeably down. And the beautiful 'Ernie Washington' (a pseudonym that Monk père used when he was unfairly sans cabaret card) has a momentous cymbal splash at the outset and Evans elaborating initially on the melody of 'Brilliant Corners' finds the sound at its most heartfelt. An album that makes us love jazz, a feeling that never goes away, all over again. SG. Out on 17 June

T. S. Monk photo: Matthew Webber

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Craig Harris, Managing the Mask, Aquastra Music ****

Compositionally very convincing and once again a trombone theme to recent posts applies in the days since the news of the passing of Grachan Moncur III spread – Judas and the Black Messiah film music composer Craig Harris here in scintillating form …

Published: 8 Jun 2022. Updated: 27 days.

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Compositionally very convincing and once again a trombone theme to recent posts applies in the days since the news of the passing of Grachan Moncur III spread – Judas and the Black Messiah film music composer Craig Harris here in scintillating form directing a horn-heavy painterly ensemble who recorded in a New York studio last year.

'Twenty Four Days an Hour' has a chant and breakout churchified organ and on the album too there is a fine homage to Black Panther Fred Hampton in 'Requiem for Fred Hampton' among its features. For us the overriding interest in what is an excellent album is in the close horn arrangements and surprises (use of didgeridoo on 'Venus Outside My Window' which is not at all gimmicky – yes that is possible) and the beautiful ballad 'Song for a Friend' with flute set against descending horn lines and a delicious Harris solo.

Managing the Mask is available via this link

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