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John Beasley: MONK’estra Vol. 2 (Mack Avenue)

Review of keyboardist's second volume of his project saluting the music of Thelonious Monk

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John Beasley Presents "MONK’estra Vol. 2"
John Beasley Presents “MONK’estra Vol. 2”

Long before the arrival of 2017, his centennial year, Thelonious Monk had become the most covered composer in jazz. It sometimes feels like every new jazz record has to have a Monk tune. And Monk tribute albums are myriad: Latin Monk, vocal Monk, alt-rock Monk, organ Monk. His art is large enough to absorb almost anything.

John Beasley’s salute to Monk, now in two volumes, is an ambitious big-band project featuring new arrangements, 16 proficient players and several high-profile guests. Vol. 1 got good press and two Grammy nominations. The news on Vol. 2 is mixed.

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