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Reflections: Plays Thelonious Monk
Genres: Jazz, Pop
By the time this album was recorded in 1958, Lacy was already making his mark playing soprano saxophone exclusively and working with some of the most forward-looking musicians in jazz, like pianist Cecil Taylor and arrange... more »
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By the time this album was recorded in 1958, Lacy was already making his mark playing soprano saxophone exclusively and working with some of the most forward-looking musicians in jazz, like pianist Cecil Taylor and arranger Gil Evans. The group here consists of some of New York's most probing, younger players--pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Buell Neidlinger an associate from the Taylor group), and Elvin Jones, already a forceful presence on drums. The startling thing about this early venture into Monk's music, the first album by other musicians devoted to Monk, is that Lacy was already foregoing the better known tunes, concentrating on Monk repertoire that was seldom played outside the pianist's own groups. Lacy's spare, structurally conscious improvisation gets to the essence of Monk's music. --Stuart Broomer
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Not Your Average Monk Cover Band
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 07/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy is one of the great interpreters of Thelonious Monk's music. In some ways it seems strange that one would want to buy an album of Monk songs that did not feature Monk. His music is some of the most distinctive in all jazz, if not all music. But Steve Lacy injects his own style into Monk while maintaining the music's original intent and unique sound. Of course, it doesn't hurt having Mal Waldron on piano, who has a playing style very reminiscent of Monk's, and two figures well known for their own advancements in jazz, Bud Neidlinger and Elvin Jones, on bass and drums respectively. The best aspect of this album though is Lacy's playing of lesser-known Monk works. While umpteen jazz musicians have recorded "'Round Midnight," Lacy concentrates instead on "Hornin' In," "Bye-Ya" and "Skippy." This is essential music for anyone who loves Monk, Lacy or good jazz."
Way ahead of it's time, but it swings, too
ccex | Chicago, IL | 07/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the very first Thelonious Monk tribute album, recorded at least 20 years before jazz musicians found it fashionable to play Monk tributes. It also brings the soprano sax back to the forefront, after the death of Sidney Bechet, and before John Coltrane mastered it. Elvin Jones, Buell Niedlinger, and Mal Waldron make the perfect rhythm section for this project. What I admire most about this is Steve Lacy's insistence to explore some of the trickiest and more overlooked Monk compositions. I'll listen to any version of "Skippy" and "Four In One" I can find"
Lacy does with a horn what Monk does with a keyboard
Matthew Watters | Vietnam | 12/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While echoing the comments of the other two reviewers, I would also note that what makes Lacy's Monk covers great is that he uses the horn to voice much of what Monk usually conveys with his piano. Lacy is that good: his playing encompasses all the rhythmic and harmonic 'quirks' that make Monk's piano-playing so endlessly fascinating. On this recording, that puts the always-fantastic Mal Waldron not in the role of replacing Monk's piano, but of serving as an additional solo voice, much like the horns in one of Monk's quartets. (And, like the puckery sound of Charlie Rouse, the tone of Lacy's soprano sax seems perfectly suited to 'doing' Monk.) If you think I'm coming out of left field with this mini-analysis, note that Lacy dropped the piano entirely for his next, mostly Monk, recording, the even-more-superb EVIDENCE with Don Cherry."