The cover for this record makes the hippest reference to an earlier album design in memory: It features a red wagon with the skyline of Philadelphia in it-remember Monk's Music?. The program is weighted toward unobvious Monk tunes, which provides further evidence of the intelligence of Monkadelphia's approach.
It's great to hear vibes on these tunes: When Tony Micelli's notes hang in air to create a flavor of Monkish dissonance, the effect is delicious. Pianist Tom Lawton manages to evoke the master's voice without being imitative-no mean feat-and tenorman Chris Farr is a good soloist who listens well to what is going on around him.
The only problem is the sound quality on this live recording. The drums and piano are low, the bass and vibes a bit high, and after a while the listener wears out. Singer Suzanne Cloud is also out of balance, though she generally gives a good account of herself on the three vocal cuts. This record would have made an even stronger impression if it were shorter. As it is, I look forward to more from MONKadelphia; already well worth hearing, the group can only get better.