The Onliest: Pictures from a Monk Exhibition

COMPOSERS: Thelonious Monk
LABELS: FMR
ALBUM TITLE: John Law Trio
PERFORMER: John Law (p); Tim Wells (b); Paul Clarvis (d, perc)
CATALOGUE NO: CD38-E1096 (distr. Harmonia Mundi)

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Structured, complete with solo-instrument ‘Promenade’ passages, after the Mussorgsky model, to link in with an art exhibition by Melanie Day, this consistently adventurous but accessible album features 11 Thelonious Monk compositions in an intelligent range of imaginative trio arrangements.

Thus ‘Bemsha Swing’ is performed as a round, ‘Evidence’ sizzles and crashes towards a dramatically sudden climax, ‘Ruby My Dear’ is given startling textural originality courtesy of a treated piano and bowed bass, and Monk’s most celebrated piece, ‘Round Midnight’ , receives an extended treatment which somehow contrives to be at once lyrical and sombre.

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Released hot on the heels of the equally accomplished ‘standards and beyond’ recording, Giant Leaves (Autumn Steps), by the same trio, and complementing Law’s highly acclaimed solo work on the same label, this album entitles the London-based pianist to be mentioned in the same breath as the UK’s other two great Monk interpreters, Stan Tracey and Howard Riley – praise indeed. CP