One of the essential elements in great music is the enthusiasm of the musicians. If they're not 100% behind what they're playing, then why would you care as a listener? There are moments when musicians excell at bringing this enthusiasm with the material across very well, and this CD is an example in case. "Plays Monk" consists of Scott Amendola on drums, Ben Goldberg on clarinet and Devin Hoff on bass, and they bring ten pieces by Monk. And what these guys do, is absolutely fabulous : the rhythm section is re-creating the tunes all by themselves, hard-hitting and very creative and modern with Monk's material, while Goldberg is trying to keep the original melodies intact, and lifting them even to unknown territory, his clarinet as fast as the right hand of the absent piano-player. Especially Amendola is fierce at times and Hoff's bass is more often "running" rather than "walking ", because they turn the tempo a notch higher than on the originals. The band's objective is to find the depth and breadth of Monk's music and they do it well, "… always aiming for the distilled truth of the music”, as they say themselves. This is indeed music stripped to its barest essence : melody, harmony, rhythm and interplay. And the material is great, and the musicians are great. Pure joy, pure fun! What more do you want?
You can listen, buy or download the album from Long Song Records