Muhal Richard Abrams/Barry Harris: Interpretations of Monk, Volume 1

The playful imagination and structural brilliance of TheloniousMonk are remarkably honored on these delightful 1981 live performances at Columbia University. Both Abrams and Harris illustrate their mastery of interpreting the varying moods of Monk as they both lead an all-stellar ensemble comprised of trumpeter Don Cherry, saxophonists Steve Lacy and Charlie Rouse, trombonist Roswell Rudd, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Ben Riley.

On both sets, pianists Abrams and Harris perform with great authority and conviction. On “Crepuscule With Nellie,” Abrams delivers a plaintive solo rendition that masterfully evokes Monk’s sense of drama and frivolity. Harris also displays his soloing skills with a needle-point perfect recital of “Ruby, My Dear.” Elsewhere, the ensemble shines brightly with intensely nutty readings of “Four In One,” “Epistrophy” and “Bye-Ya,” balanced by elegiac performances of “Pannonica” and “Ask Me Now.” This is a noteworthy tribute, indeed.