COMPOSERS: Thelonious Monk
LABELS: RCA Victor
ALBUM TITLE: Andy Summers
PERFORMER: Andy Summers (g), Dave Carpenter (b), Peter Erskine (d), Hank Roberts (cello), Joey DeFrancesco (o), Steve Tavaglione (ss, ts, cl), Walt Fowler (t), Bernie Dresel (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 63472 2
Andy Summers used to play guitar with pop combo The Police. Like singer Sting, who puts in an appearance here, Summers was always a jazzer at heart. Green Chimneys, a selection of lesser- and well-known Monk tunes, shows the 56-year-old to be a deft, sophisticated modernist in the style of John Scofield, with a substantial tone and confident technique.
Ringing bebop lines flow easily, interspersed with skewed notes and occasional rock effects. Each arrangement, with an average playing time of about four minutes, has a crazy paving kind of logic that respects the composer’s originals. ‘Shuffle Boil’ is shunted along busily by the rhythm section, with Summers’s fuzz guitar howling overhead.
‘Round Midnight’ is a smooth-riding vehicle for Sting, and his reading of this well-worn standard is reverent and luminous. The endpiece, an acoustic version of ‘Ruby, My Dear’, is tenderly balanced on the right side of sentimentality. He can’t go far wrong with this studio band – Erskine, DeFrancesco and Roberts are priceless — but Summers acquits himself as a distinctive and distinguished leader/soloist in his own right. Garry Booth