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Eric Reed: The Baddest Monk

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Eric Reed is making a habit of covering Thelonious Monk. A year after releasing The Dancing Monk, the pianist has issued another album of Monk tunes. The Baddest Monk includes seven of the bebop father’s tunes and two Monk-ish originals. In doing so, Reed proves that there is always something new to say about, and through, Monk’s music.

The core of the band is the rhythm section, with Matt Clohesy on bass and Henry Cole on drums. Tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake appears on four tunes and trumpeter Etienne Charles on three. When the whole quintet plays, it gets into some spirited grooves. The funky bop of a rearranged “Rhythm-a-Ning” sets up Reed’s solo nicely; he smooths Monk’s jagged edges even as he lets a hail of notes fly. After horn solos on “Epistrophy” marked by crisp staccatos (Charles) and winding, curving figures (Blake), Reed plays contrapuntally and counter-rhythmically as he sinks his claws into the chord changes.

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