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Think of One by Monk's Music Trio

In the notes to the CD, Think of One, by the Monk's Music Trio, drummer Chuck Bernstein writes about his visit to Japan in the rainy season and his time spent in the renowned rock garden in the Zen Buddhist temple, Shoden-ji, in Kyoto. He Tells of taking photos of raindrops falling into a ceramic bowl.

He developed the film, and, he says, in one photo "...was the extraordinary effect of water just impacting the surface of the water in the ceramic bowl." Immediately, he had a Zen moment-that single drop of water represented the entire rainy season. At the same time, it reminded him of Thelonious Monk's composition,"Think of One."

It seems appropriate that Monk and Zen are linked as inspiration for this CD. Zen philosophy stresses intuition over the traditional, a concept which can be applied to Monk's unique compositions. Zen also stresses meditation and self contemplation, and, for anyone who has seen Monk play, these qualities fit perfectly.

With the temple experience in mind, Monk Music's Trio plays 13 selections here from Monk's canon and admirably succeeds in putting its stamp on the jazz giant's work. The album is eminently listenable for, not only Monk fans, but for jazz listeners in general.

Besides drummer Bernstein, the group features Si Perkoff on piano and Sam Bevan on bass. According to the CD notes, Perkoff began his career in the ‘60s. He has played with the likes of Art Pepper and Buddy Collete, as well as teaching jazz piano.

Bernstein began his career in the ‘50s and has appeared in a variety of settings from blues to rock to jazz. Bevan is a comparative newcomer, having come to the jazz scene in the ‘90s.

Particularly notable about the CD is the chance to hear seldom-recorded Monk tunes, such as "San Francisco Holiday," "Coming on the Hudson" and "Stuffy Turkey," along with often-heard classics, including "Brilliant Corners," Pannonica" and "Rhythm-a-ning."

Pianist Perkoff, who lists Monk and Bud Powell as influences, doesn't do imitation Monk but puts his own signature on the numbers. Monk's style is often described as angular or dissonant, containing abrupt starts and stops. Perkoff plays more fluently in a boppish style. But, as in "Rhythm-a-ning," just when you think he is settling into a "Monk Lite" groove, he inserts a flourish of jagged chords.

Drummer Bernstein and bassist Bevan admirably anchor the group. Bevan contributes with tasty bass solos, particularly with his "hum-along" turn on the title track. Bernstein, as is his wont, is subdued but forceful. Hear him artlessly trade fours in "Misterioso." It's almost a Zen experience.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Monk's Music Trio
  • CD Title: Think of One
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: CMB
  • Tracks: San Francisco Holiday, Coming on the Hudson, Ask Me Now,Four in One, Brilliant Corners, Think of One, Pannonica, Tinkle Tinkle, Misterioso, Two Timer, Stuffy Turkey, Boo Boos Birthday
  • Musicians: Si Perkoff (Piano), Sam Bevan (Bass), Chuck Bernstein (Drums).
  • Rating: Four Stars
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