November 2003

T.S. Monk
Higher Ground

It's never been easy to pin down T.S. Monk. The drummer and famous inheritor has long evinced equal allegiances to modern jazz, electric fusion, R&B and straight-up funk. Accordingly, Higher Ground (on T.S.'s new label, Thelonious) employs elements of all of the above. The disc opens with a bossa-turned-blazer "Haristocracy" penned by alto saxophonist Bobby Porcelli, then moves into the synth-tinged groove of "Girl Watchin.'" What keeps the proceedings moving is the alertness of the ensemble, which Monk intently drives like a sports car. Solos are crisp, entrances are sharp and the overall sense is that of a band in good fighting trim. Helpfully, Monk has also chosen a fresh repertoire: new tunes and rather obscure old ones. His dedication to eclecticism resonates throughout the disc; likeminded listeners will surely appreciate the results.

Originally published in November 2003
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