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Lookin at Monk
Johnny Griffin, Eddie Lockjaw Davis
Lookin at Monk
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1

When the two tough tenors waxed this record in 1961, the idea of a Thelonious Monk tribute was fresh, daring, and affectionate--not at all the overdone and uninspired exercise that it can often be decades later. Johnny Gri...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Johnny Griffin, Eddie Lockjaw Davis
Title: Lookin at Monk
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Ojc
Release Date: 2/2/1999
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Style: Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 025218191128

When the two tough tenors waxed this record in 1961, the idea of a Thelonious Monk tribute was fresh, daring, and affectionate--not at all the overdone and uninspired exercise that it can often be decades later. Johnny Griffin had already been an integral part of Monk's late-1950s quartet; bassist Larry Gales and drummer Ben Riley would wind up joining Monk's band just three years later. The contrasting but compatible styles of the two leaders teach a valuable lesson in what makes Monk's music special: Davis offers soulful, blues-based, earthbound lines while Griffin tends toward feisty, soaring, far-reaching sounds, but both capture the essence of Monk's compositions. Pianist Junior Mance's chord-feeding isn't as jagged as Monk's, but is no less effective. As fiery as the five hot numbers are, the two ballads--Griffin on "'Round Midnight" and Davis on "Ruby, My Dear"--are just as impressive. Both Davis and Griffin are capable of having their own unique voices shine through while still upholding the spirit of Monk's ideas. --Marc Greilsamer

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CD Reviews

A Sophomoric Monk Tribute
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 06/22/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)

"It may be hard to believe forty years later, but "Lookin' at Monk" was only the second all-Monk album ever recorded not featuring Monk himself. (The first was Steve Lacy's classic "Reflections" -- see my review.) Nowadays Monk tributes are a dime a dozen, but back in 1961 it was a novelty, and the motivation behind such an effort seemed two-fold -- to pay homage to a brilliant jazz composer, and to bring his often strange music to a larger audience. Despite the musicians' direct associations with Monk mentioned in the editorial review, this tribute to Monk falls short of expectations. First, the musicians really approach Monk's music in a simplistic, straightforward manner. This watered-down Monk may have been palatable to the ears of non-believers in the 60s, but nowadays Monk's music doesn't come across as so glaringly avant-garde, and it no longer needs sugar-coating. Second, unlike Steve Lacy's "Reflections" which showcases lesser-known Monk gems, "Lookin' at Monk" finds Lockjaw and Griffin playing tunes from the Monk canon, which for my money, I would much rather hear played by the man himself. Finally, pianist Junior Mance is not the man to fill Monk's shoes on the bench. To paraphrase the words of former vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen, "I knew Thelonious Monk, I served with Thelonious Monk, and Mr. Mance, you are no Thelonious Monk" (...or something like that). Anyway, to sum things up, "Lookin' at Monk" is a nice snapshot of the eccentric composer's music but certainly not the priceless portraits that are Monk's own Riverside albums. Finally, as is the case with most obscure OJC titles, this CD is a limited edition, so if my review hasn't doused your flame, you would be wise to pick this up quickly."
Swinging like crazy on Monk!!
Jazzcat | Genoa, Italy Italy | 08/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This cd is absolutly excellent. This is the second album in the history of jazz dedicated only to Monk's awkward tunes (the first has been a Steve Lacy's album). If in the years that followed the release of this album some other players went deeper inside Monk's music (expecially with arrangements) this doen't mean that this album is nothing less than marvellous only because it has a more "blowing" attitude. "To blow" in Jazz is an essential verb for what I am concerned. Moreover Griffin and Lockjaw Davis were expecially indicated as Monk's soloists because they worked with the master. This album shows how Monk's music could be great as a tool for Jazz improvisation. These two guys gave Monk's music new life with higly inspired solos on each track. I think this album has no flaws. It is not simplicistic neither boring. It is spectacular sixties jazz based on Monk's very curious compositions played in combo format. Griffin and Davis did a fantastic job with Monk's material here.

Uh, ... this album swings like crazy. It's pure fun, .. gold."