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Monk’s Music Trio: Monk’s Bones

If this record doesn’t make you grin like a fool, you’re a grinch.

Monk’s Music Trio is Si Perkoff on piano, Sam Bevan on bass and Chuck Bernstein on drums. They are Monk acolytes, scholars and interpreters of the first order, as demonstrated on their earlier recordings, Think of One and Harmony of Odd Numbers. Perkoff, Bevan and Bernstein (sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?) are deeply in tune with a particular aspect of Monk’s art–his deadpan humor. Drollery is assured on Monk’s Bones by the addition of the funniest jazz instrument, the trombone. Two of them, actually, played by the great Roswell Rudd and Max Perkoff (Si’s son).

From the opening fierce snorts and dissonant farts of “Monk’s Dream,” with the ‘bones declaiming in raw unisons and Si Perkoff’s piano stumbling and careening downhill, Monk’s antic spirit is unmistakably present. “Little Rootie Tootie” is another knee-slapper. Si Perkoff’s piano clanks the call and Max Perkoff and Rudd blast mordant, gruff responses.

It’s beautiful how the trombones flutter around Monk’s tunes like broken-winged buzzards. Si Perkoff replicates Monk’s note-crushing touch but adds his own personalized flow. Not everything is funny. “‘Round Midnight” and “Crepuscule With Nellie” have, in the words of the Monk title, “ugly beauty.”

Originally Published