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Brian Trainor Trio and Friends: Monk and Me

With strikingly faithful keyboard style and compositional wit, pianist Brian Trainor plays a rich tribute to Thelonious Monk. Monk’s angular humor is resurrected on five Monk charts and six Trainor originals, performed in a trio setting with bassist Vince Fay and drummer Bill Jones, with frequent enhancement by alto saxophonist Richie Cole and tenorman Steve Marcus, plus other guests.

Trainor, a Monk fan since age 12, produces exceptional creative energy on the signature “Straight, No Chaser,” sparked by Tyrone Brown’s walking bass. Cole and Marcus trade dazzlingly innovative riffs on “Well You Needn’t” and “Let’s Cool One.” Monk’s only waltz, “Still We Dream,” is brought to life by the cool vocals of Kelly Rodrigues, but the inclusion of John Swana’s EVI (electronic valve instrument) on “Hackensack” is a contemporary element that doesn’t mesh with Monk’s legacy.

Trainor’s originals fit the concept well, especially both versions of the complex title track and the ballad “Bernstein’s Girl.” There also are two versions of the high-energy “Cape May Freeway,” and a reverent ballad, “B’s Waltz.” Trainor displays an artful affinity for Monk’s vigor and enduring style, and succeeds in paying homage to his piano idol.

Originally Published