Augusto Monk’s self-produced DVD, Stories & Grooves, is a rather curious and somewhat atypical production, to say the least. Here again is another form of (I guess) free or avant garde jazz that really greatly depends on your personal perception and expectations. While all music tends to do that to some degree, this DVD gives interpretation a whole new slant.
While Monk’s talents are quite noteworthy (he plays drums, melodica, keys, and bass pedal-board simultaneously and you get to watch him doing so!), I was totally nonplussed and unimpressed with the rather tongue-in-cheek arrangements. This production is all set in an often somewhat jazzy/blues-themed background and is sometimes reminiscent of the old black & white TV detective shows starring some private eye telling his own story about an encounter with a mysterious double-crossing blonde who hires him to track some double-crossing lover. Sometimes entertaining, often not.
Aside from Monk’s obvious imagination and talent, this DVD is lacking in a few key areas, like melody. What melody presents itself is monotonous and serves only as background for the narratives or somewhat perplexing "stories" referenced in the DVD’s title. If you simply wish to watch someone competent enough to pull off the playing of several instruments at once or if you like hearing stories that you’ll have to focus on hearing (and seeing, as he has drawings also), and you just wish to resign yourself to missing any music that may be present, this might work for you. Just don’t expect this one to truly whet your musical appetite. Actually, it doesn’t seem as though that was its purpose, anyway.