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ASA Trio

Carlos Santana

Andres Thor – guitar, Scott McLemore – drums, Agnar Már Magnússon – organ

In 2005 on the Reykjavik Jazz Festival there was a last minute cancellation. Andres Thor was asked to put together a group to fill the slot. That was the first performance by ASA Trio, although the name would come later.

During that concert one of the tunes Andres called was Thelonious Monk’s Bemsha Swing and it turned out to be the highlight of the show. Afterward it seemed obvious to all three that they should play again, and the first thing on their minds was playing more music by Monk.

And so they set about learning more compositions by the pianist, realizing as they went that the traditional instrumentation of guitar, Hammond organ and drums sounded quite unusual playing Monk’s music.

After several performances exclusively of his music, curiousity lead them to try music by other unlikely composers like Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Fiona Apple, Jimi Hendrix, Bud Powell, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Ray Charles. The possibilties seemed endless, and everything they played seemed imbued with originality.

As they continued to experiment with the music of various composers as well as their own original music, their performances became grab-bag variety shows where one never knew what to expect. Andres had the idea to take on John Coltrane’s epic masterpiece A Love Supreme and surprise the audience with it as the entire 2nd set at Cafe Cultura one night in October 2009. Although it was a huge risk, it went amazingly well.

An indication that the trio was somewhat transcending the jazz idiom, they were invited to perform on the 2010 Reykjavik Blues Festival where they played a program of Jimi Hendrix tunes.

Having released two live “download-only” recordings. It seemed obvious that ASA Trio needed to record in a studio and release a physical CD. The only question was what music to record?

A jazz dj at Iceland’s public radio, had attended several ASA Trio concerts and was insistant that they record the music of Thelonious Monk. Eventually she gave up waiting for it to happen and arranged to have the trio record at the radio. She featured the results in a two part show on the project.

In February 2011 ASA Trio released the recording simply titled Plays the Music of Thelonious Monk.