Bernstein formed Monk’s Music Trio in 1999 and has released two previous critically acclaimed recordings Harmony of Odd Harmony, and Think Of One. The trio captures the angularity and leanness of Monk, and for this project augment their sound and interpretive powers with the striking addition of the trombones. The instrument’s combined elasticity and ability to punctuate bring the idiosyncratic nature of Monk’s composition to full blossom.
Not just any trombones, either. Roswell Rudd, who in the early 60’s along with Steve Lacy (whom Monk’s Bones is dedicated to) formed the first jazz group to concentrate on Thelonious Monk compositions, has gone on to become one of the world’s leading jazz pioneers. Max Perkoff, son of pianist Si, is the perfect counterpoint to Rudd, his distinct tone and depth balance the elder’s spontaneous, strident attack.
The trombones kick off the first track,"Monk’s Dream," and forge on to trade fours and eights in a conversation that is coloured by the musicians' distinguishing styles. Bassist, Bevan, and drummer, Bernstein, take part in the conversation, while pianist Perkoff lays down a chunky solo. Monk’s achingly beautiful ballad "Ugly Beauty" begins with a spacious intro, followed Max Perkoff laying down the pensive melody, with pianist Si Perkoff’s eloquent solo deepening the introspective mood. "Round Midnight," arguably Monk’s most famous composition, is offered in a more orchestral fashion, with the elegant muted trombones fixing another star on the stellar composition. Of particular note is "Friday the 13th," where Bernstein adds further texture and flavour with the Brazilian Berimbau. With Monk’s quirky composition providing the framework, this track creates an exciting bridge that spans the ages and cultural musical spirits in one delicious gumbo.
Visceral, clean, and highly creative, Monk’s Bones is a must have for any Monk lover, but will deeply satisfy any listener of high quality music.