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T.S. Monk: Underground Monk

T.S. Monk

Drummer and bandleader T.S. Monk is a relative latecomer to a full-time jazz career. He grew up at the feet of his fabled father, took drum lessons from Max Roach, received a set of drums from Art Blakey and remembers frequent visits to the family home by a constant stream of jazz greats when he was a kid. But when Thelonious Jr. broke into the music biz as a leader in the 1980s, he took the R&B route. Then in 1991, Monk formed a sextet and dedicated himself to the music of Kenny Dorham, Walter Davis Jr., Hank Mobley, Clifford Jordan, Elmo Hope and his father.

Now, 12 years after his jazz LP debut, Monk heads his own label, Thelonious (theloniousrecords.com). A vehicle for his own recordings as well as for private recordings by his father, the new label was inaugurated in August with T.S. Monk’s Higher Ground, his sixth sextet recording, which attempts to modernize a Jazz Messengers-type sound. The second CD is the label’s first archival recording by his father, Monk in Paris: Live at the Olympia (from a 1965 concert). Plans are to release a string of previously unheard Monk performances in various configurations, including a lineup from the early ’70s that featured a 20-something Thelonious Jr. on drums.

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