Saxophonist/educator Sam Newsome took his time constructing these solo soprano sax interpretations of pianist Thelonious Monk’s songbook. He employs multiphonics and other techniques, but thankfully, none of these works are superfluous or overstay their welcome, which can be the case during solo anything type endeavors.
Newsome uncovers hidden attributes within these Monk compositions amid the five sequentially titled "Monk Abstraction No. 1-5" pieces that are strategically placed within the body of the album. He weaves, dances and flickers through these pieces via microtonal theme-building exercises, nicely integrated within the familiar rhythmic structures and tone of Monk’s patented style. On compositions such as "Skippy, Misterioso," and others; he bops, dances, darts and often envelops the respective melody lines with artful reengineering maneuvers. And while Newsome personalizes these comps, he retains the inherent flavor of the late pianist’s musical aura.
On "Monk Abstraction No. 4," the saxophonist conjures up a mechanical, gruff-toned sound, largely contrasted with extended notes and poignantly arranged sub-motifs. And then on "Rhythm-a-ning," Newsome pops out the melody and rhythm with split-notes while segueing into the primary theme with the lyricism of a jazz vocalist. In sum, Newsome casts an exceptionally creative spin on paths previously traversed while providing a mini-clinic along the way.