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MP3 Monk's Music Trio - Harmony Of Odd Numbers

A tight, swinging piano trio composed of musicians with over 150 years of experience performing the compositions of Thelonious Sphere Monk.

12 MP3 Songs
JAZZ: Bebop, JAZZ: Swing/Big Band

"If you know what you''re about and have a musical path" Thelonious Monk once said, "stay with it no matter what. If it''s valid and honest, people will come around no matter how long it takes. Just be yourself!"

These words, as they apply to drummer Chuck Bernstein, have special resonance. A stalwart of busy San Francisco jazz scene for some four decades, the sixty-two-year-young Bernstein has lifted bandstands with some of the Bay area''s best. Here, in his impressive debut as leader, that experience and patience pay off. Indeed, The Harmony of Odd Numbers is an exuberant foray resonating with an understanding of the indomitable Monk that is both musical and spiritual. As Bernstein points out above, with Monk, the notes not played are as important as those actually sounded.

Whether understood as Ma, the theory of odd numbers, or a variation on Buckminster Fuller''s dymaxium principle of doing more with less, the results -- for Monk and Bernstein -- are compelling.

Chuck''s Trio, Monk''s Music, is a working band with a shared vision.
There''s and ESP-like simpatico between Chuck, pianist Si Perkoff and bassist Frank Passantino that makes each note, phrase, and tune click. One immediately senses a rare level of interpersonal and musical trust that makes taking risks possible. In Harmony of Odd Numbers, sounds-of-surprise abound.

Perkoff. house pianist at the fabled Bop City during the 1960''s, plays a particularly pivotal role. While inahabiting the stylistic as well as spiritual arc of Monlk''s pianist orb, the pianist has added his own voice and experience. His agile, in-the-moment inventions keep one wondering, "what''s next?" Passantino, who''s backed such stalwarts as Barney Kessel and Red Holloway, is a perfect foil whose rich plummy sound and sure-footed strolls anchor as well as nudge.

Chuck is a perfect drummer for Monk''s music. While influenced by such icons Gene Krupa, Papa Jo Joes, Ed Thigpen, Lawrence Marable, Frank Butler, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Benny Barth and Dick Berk, to mention only a few, it''s Shelly Manne who remains Chuck''s primary touchstone. If you listen closely, there''s a lyricism in Chick''s playing that recalls Shelly''s melodism. Chuck''s stick work, like Manne''s, has snap, crackle and pop. And when he switches to brushes, there''s a luxuriant flow that defines as well as feathers the pulse. Chuck, a journalist in his own right, penned one of the definitive interviews with the great Manne, "The Last Interview," for Modern Drummer. In Harmony of Odd Numbers, Chuck''s approach is light, lithe and lively. Pushing and prodding but never bullying, the drummer swings. His reponses to his colleagues'' statements are thoughtful and engaged. And when he solos, one can "sense" the backdrop of Monk''s architecture as well as the passion of Chuck''s commitment.

Monk''s Music was born several years ago when Chuck approached Si about forming a trio devoted to exploring Monk''s vast repertory. "Si plays more Monk tunes than anyone else in the Bay area," Chuck says. "In fact, the local guys consider Si to be the area''s foremost Monk interpreter.. When I sat in with him, he played Monk tunes I had never heard of. He opened the door for me and I''ve been hooked on Monk ever since!" For Chuck, "there was something about Monk''s spaces, the rhythms of the melodies that were totally unique. I started listening to Monk records more deeply. It began to effect my drumming. Ben Riley once said that Monk told him, ''drummers play in three tempos, slow , medium, and fast. I play in between those.''" For Chuck, it was an insight that paralleled his study of Japanese culture and its unique take on the concepts of space and time.

Like Monk said, "If you know what you''re about and have a musical path, stay with it no matter what." That''s exactly what Chuck has done. His decades-long constancy to the elusive muse of improvised music has now been documented.

"If it''s valid and honest," Monk once said, "people will come around no matter how long it takes." For Chuck, it''s been a stretch. The wait, however, has been worth it. By being himself, Chuck has prevailed.

Clearly, Harmony of Odd Numbers is the product of blood, sweat, and tears.
It''s also the product of an inspired vision, an arduous philosophic-spiritual voyage, and the collective spirit of Chuck and his estimable colleagues, Si Perkoff and Frank Passantino.

Now, the music is yours, too. Enjoy!
-- Dr. Chuck Berg, University of Kansas
(Jazz Times, Down Beat)

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