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John Stetch: Exponentially Monk

The compositions of Thelonious Monk provide all the fertile ground that an imaginative jazz pianist could ever need. John Stetch concludes a trilogy of solo recordings with Exponentially Monk (Justin Time), which serves up a baker’s dozen of Monk’s most intriguing tunes from “‘Round Midnight” and “Blue Monk” to such less touched upon gems as “Ugly Beauty” and “Gallop’s Gallop.” Stetch brings a wide vocabulary of pianistic techniques to the material-“Bright Mississippi” dashes out of the gate with hints of stride and boogie woogie; “Well You Needn’t” moves to a funky dampened-keyed ostinato. Not every reinterpretation reaches for such grand gestures, but each Monk opus is given a smartly considered facelift that adds novel luster while respecting the flawless craftsmanship of the composition itself.

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