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November 2003

T.S. Monk
Higher Ground
Thelonious

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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