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T.S. Monk: Crosstalk

Drummer T.S. Monk has broadened his pallete, and potentially his appeal, from his former Jazz Messengers flavor, without totally bowing to commercial pressures. The most obvious expansion measures are glossier studio textures, the use of electronic drums, and the employment of vocals. There’s a certain slickness about the production, and the synthetic use of electronic drums raises more questions than it answers in the case of a drummer-led ensemble. The vocals come courtesy of Patricia Barber, who is removed from her chilly, ironic persona for a duet with the leader on “Just a Little Lovin.”

Monk joins the ranks of the singing instrumentalists when he reprises Oscar Brown Jr’s humorously glum tale of the drunk life, “Somebody Buy Me a Drink.” Donald Brown’s line “Smile of the Snake” is delivered with all the stealth and intrigue of good murder mystery music, and is yet another in a series of recent affirmations of Don Sickler’s growing prowess as an arranger. Monk’s core ensemble has long been driven by the horns of Sickler, and saxmen Willie Williams, and Bob Porcelli, as is the case here.

Originally Published