Wednesday, October 25, 2017

T.S. Monk: Monk on Monk, A Celebration of the Maestro's 100th Birthday Anniversary Year, Triple Door, Seattle, WA, October 18th, 2017

In conjunction with The Earshot Jazz Festival, 2017

Monk at Minton's Playhouse, New York, 1947 (Photo: William P. Gottlieb)
Thelonious Monk, Minton's Playhouse, New York, N.Y., ca. Sept. 1947 (William P. Gottlieb 06191).jpg
By E. Joyce Glasgow,

Twenty seventeen is the centennial anniversary of the birth of one of the most unique and innovative jazz pioneers, Thelonious Sphere Monk.

Celebrations are happening all over the world in homage to the great composer and piano maestro, considered the “Father of Modern Jazz”.

Monk was born in North Carolina, on October 10, 1917 grew up in New York City and passed away in New Jersey, on February 17, 1982 at the age of 64.

Several musical celebrations have taken place in Seattle, this month, including one by his son, drummer, T.S. Monk and his brilliant sextet at the Triple Door, on October 18, 2017.

T.S. Monk came out on the Triple Door stage and said “we are going to swing you” and that is exactly what the band did, from start to finish, with clean, crisp, no nonsense solos and tight, highly energized ensemble playing.

The sextet members are T.S. Monk (drums); Theo Hill (Piano); Chris Berger (acoustic bass); Patience Higgins (alto sax/flute); Willie Williams (tenor sax/soprano sax); and Randall Haywood (trumpet/flugel horn). Each one of these musicians are impeccable players and jazz improvisers, making for a very satisfying and musically elevated set of music.

Compositions played at Triple Door included an original piece, "Sierra", written by T.S. Monk for his daughter; the compelling, waltz-like Jean-Marie”, by late jazz pianist, Ronnie Mathews and Thelonious Monk’s compositions including Think of One, Rhythm-a-Ning and Green Chimneys

The sextet ended the evening with late drummer, Max Roach’s, surprisingly upbeat, swing arrangement of Monk’s beautiful, usually moody and atmospheric, iconic composition, Round Midnight.

During the evening’s performance, T.S. shared that Round Midnight, is the most recorded jazz composition recorded in the world, and that Monk is the second most recorded composer in jazz history, after Duke Ellington.

 T.S. explained to the audience that his father was inspired to create some of his well-known compositions for his family members and friends, including Crepuscule with Nellie a love song for his wife, Nellie; Little Rootie Tootie, for T.S., who was affectionately known as “Toot”, for his boyhood love of toy trains; songs for T.S.’s late sister, Barbara, also a musician, Boo Boo’s Birthday and Green Chimneys; Pannonica, for his steadfast and supportive patroness and dear friend, the Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, and Skippy, for his musical colleague, tenor saxophonist, Skippy Williams.

Early in his career, Monk’s distinctive piano style and compositions were not understood by critics, listeners and even some musicians:

"The 1945-1954 period was very difficult for Thelonious Monk. Because he left a lot of space in his rhythmic solos and had an unusual technique, many people thought that he was an inferior pianist. His compositions were so advanced that the lazier bebop players (although not Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker) assumed that he was crazy. And Thelonious Monk's name, appearance (he liked funny hats), and personality (an occasionally uncommunicative introvert) helped to brand him as some kind of nut. Fortunately, Alfred Lion of Blue Note believed in him and recorded Monk extensively during 1947-1948 and 1951-1952. He also recorded for Prestige during 1952-1954, had a solo set for Vogue in 1954 during a visit to Paris, and appeared on a Verve date with Bird and Diz. But work was very sporadic during this era and Monk had to struggle to make ends meet.
His fortunes slowly began to improve. In 1955, he signed with Riverside and producer Orrin Keepnews persuaded him to record an album of Duke Ellington tunes and one of standards so his music would appear to be more accessible to the average jazz fan. In 1956 came the classic Brilliant Corners album, but it was the following year when the situation permanently changed. Monk was booked into the Five Spot for a long engagement and he used a quartet that featured tenor saxophonist John Coltrane. Finally, the critics and then the jazz public recognized Thelonious Monk's greatness during this important gig. The fact that he was unique was a disadvantage a few years earlier when all modern jazz pianists were expected to sound like Bud Powell (who was ironically a close friend), but by 1957 the jazz public was looking for a new approach. Suddenly, Monk was a celebrity and his status would not change for the remainder of his career.” -  Quote from Blue Note Records
Thelonious Monk was a musical genius, ahead of his time and since those early days, and the eventual discovery of his genius by the public, he was featured on the cover of Time Magazine, has his own U.S. postage stamp, was given a posthumous Pulitzer Prize, a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a street in New York City named after him, numerous other awards and accolades and continues to be admired and revered for his dynamic, ground-breaking musical contributions by jazz listeners and musicians, thirty five years after his death.

T.S. Monk has some amazing stories about his father and growing up the son of a major jazz icon and innovator. As a child, many of the biggest titans of jazz came by the house often and he only knew them by their first names and nothing of their fame. He did not even realize his father’s prestigious place in the jazz world until he was in his teens. 

He led a bit of a charmed life having been born into this family, with a father who was jazz royalty. He has a great story of when he was a young boy of fifteen and expressed to his father his desire to play the drums. His father picked up the phone and called drummer and fellow jazz icon, Art Blakey, who gifted T.S. with a set of drums. Then Monk called another jazz icon, drummer, Max Roach, who became T.S.’s personal drum teacher. 

I’ve Included below a recent, anecdote filled video interview with T.S. Monk, by PIX 11, in which he shares this story and other historical stories about hanging out with his father at the long lived, Village Vanguard jazz club, jazz culture in New York City and experiences his father had in his life in the music world.

T. S. Monk told the Triple Door audience that he is actually the “third”. His father is actually “Jr.” His grandfather was the original Thelonious Monk, and T.S. has a son, who is Thelonious Monk the “fourth”, keeping this distinctive name alive through four generations.

T.S. Monk is the founder of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. 

Mission statement: "The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is a nonprofit education organization established in 1986. Its mission is to offer the world’s most promising young musicians college level training by internationally acclaimed jazz masters and to present public school music education programs for young people around the world. The Institute preserves, perpetuates and expands jazz as a global art form, and utilizes jazz as a means to unite people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities. All of the Institute’s programs are provided free of charge to students, schools and communities worldwide. The Institute’s programs help fill a tremendous void in arts education left by budget cuts in public school funding, and use jazz as the medium to encourage imaginative thinking, creativity, a positive self-image, and a respect for one’s own and others’ cultural heritage."

The Triple Door is a supper/music club, in Seattle, which features Pan-Asian cuisine and an eclectic variety of performances, including holiday Burlesque shows, cabaret, comedy, pop, folk, world music, indie, rock, latin and jazz shows. For a calendar of upcoming events visit:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: Joyful Columbian Band, Monsieur Perine, Thrilled and Delighted Audiences for Two Nights at the Jazz Alley, Seattle, Washington, September 12 and 13, 2017

 Monsieur Perine Delighted Audiences at the Jazz Alley, Seattle Washington, September 12th and 13th, 2017

By E. Joyce Glasgow,

Monsieur Perine is an eight-member band of joyful, high-energy musicians from Bogata, Columbia. They have brilliantly combined their favorite musical styles and developed them into a sound that is unique and original to them. (See two of their videos, included below). 
There is an undercurrent of traditional, grounded, Afro-Columbian Cumbia rhythms, meeting a high-spirited, bubbly style of  French, 1920’s era, guitar centered, “Gypsy” jazz swing, and sprinkled with funny percussive elements like the oom pahs you may find keeping time on the drum set during a polka. All the elements embraced, work together, uncannily, to create something fresh, sophisticated and different.
I was curious about where their name came from and found out that their band’s inspiration for the title is as unusual as they are. They were inspired by the perineum, ( perinee, in French) that part of the human body which lies at the base/bass of the 1st Chakra or “root” chakra and took the word "Perine", adding "Monsieur"in juxtaposition, ironically referencing the belief that all things French are refined and elegant.
They live up to their name, as their infectious rhythms and energy have everyone up and dancing energized from their own "root" chakras, inspired by the wild, catchy rhythms and the group's pop, party effervescence. Almost everyone in the club, both upstairs and down immediately rose to their feet when the band invited the audience to join in and dance.
Most of the band’s songs performed at Jazz Alley were their originals, sung in Spanish or French, along with a traditional, Latin bolero, adapted to their style. 
Lead vocalist, Catalina Garcia, has a beautiful, nuanced voice and exudes a relaxed, graceful self- confidence and charm in her singing and comfortable, natural interactions with the audience. Her easy command of the stage is very appealing and quickly engages and wins over audiences. Garcia also wears wonderful, whimsically designed outfits which stylistically cross a colorful, traditional, indigenous style South American tribal clothing look, with hip, high fashion and a Spanish flamenco/gypsy touch.
The band has been together for ten years, having started performing together in 2007. They first met at a music conservatory they were attending in Columbia. Their first album, in 2012, won Columbia’s gold album award and In 2015 they won the Latin Grammy Award for “Best New Artist” of the year. They have been traveling the world and have enthusiastic fans everywhere.
Although some personnel has changed, the many years of seasoned playing together and their comfort and familiarity with one another has made them a really tight performance powerhouse, with seamless transitions from song to song that never let down the super high energy throughout the whole show, from start to finish.  
Expressive, crisp, lively solos from the tenor sax, trombone and trap drums drive home the jazz element throughout, a clarinet adds a bit of Klezmer feel and the addition of the traditional South American Charango (guitar like instrument), traditional bass guitar (like the bass guitar you might see in a Mariachi band) and congas, cajon ( "box" percussion), bongos and other varied percussion instruments bring the Latin component into their sound. The two rhythmical guitars' frenetic strumming punctuates and completes their sound with the French Gypsy jazz swing component. 
The musicians are Catalina Garcia, lead vocalist and percussion; Santiago Priego, charango, violin and guitar; Nicolas Junca, guitar; Jairo Alfonso, saxophone and clarinet; Abstin Caveates, trombone and bugle; Miguel Guerra, percussion; Darwin Baez, drums and Adinda Meertins, bass.
Thoroughly entertaining and exciting, I recommend you see Monsieur Perine in person if you have the chance. They have been traveling all over the U.S. and appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival this summer as well as this past weekend at the Monterey Jazz Festival. 
For a list of upcoming events at Jazz Alley visit:

Watch Monsieur Perine's videos below.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Newport Jazz Festival 2017 Features Terrific Line-Up, August 4-6, 2017, Newport, Rhode Island

 Newport Jazz Festival 2017, August 4-6, 2017, Newport, Rhode Island.
 For more information, visit:

By E. Joyce Glasgow

The Newport Jazz Festival 2017 has an incredible line up of some of the greatest musicians and jazz groups performing today, in a wonderful variety of styles and configurations.

The three- day festival is held at Fort Adams, Newport, R.I., with a yearly Friday evening concert at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, in Newport, and the Fort is a very pleasant and easily navigable location, right on the water, with beautiful views of the sail boats drifting by.

The four stages are fairly close together and all have chairs. One stage is indoors, featuring more intimate performances, including solo piano and small ensembles. At the largest stage, most bring and set up their own chairs, as the provided chairs there are for a larger cost.

There are numerous artisans’ booths featuring jewelry, clothing, and hats, and some food booths.

The timing each day is very relaxing, manageable and leisurely and performances run from 11 AM-6 PM, with nice, full length sets, leaving the evenings to explore all the restaurants and sights around downtown Newport and enjoy a lovely, early dinner near the water, and still get a good night’s sleep.

The sound systems at all the stages are crystal clear and well balanced enabling great enjoyment of the music and all the instruments. This important attention to details of sound is impressive and very worthy of mention.

This historic jazz festival attracts crowds from every age range, from jazz new-comers, and students, to seasoned jazz listeners and musicians.

 Friday, August 4, 2017, at Fort Adams:

Bella Fleck and the Flecktones; Maceo Parker; Cecile McLorin Salvant, Naturally 7, Leslie Odom, Jr., Joey De Francesco and The People; Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith; Amir ElSaffar’s River of Sound Orchestra; Christian Sands Quartet; One For All; Evan Christopher Clarinet Road and New Orleans Brass; Rodriguez Brothers; Jimmy Green Quartet; George Burton Quartet; and the Berklee Global Jazz Institute Workshop Ensemble

Watch Cecile McLorin Salvant here:

Watch Bella Fleck and the Flecktones here:

Friday evening August 4, 2017, at the International Tennis Hall of Fame:
 Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue; and Rhiannon Giddens

Watch Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue here:

Saturday, August 5, 2017, at Fort Adams:

Snarky Puppy; Branford Marsalis Quartet; Rhiannon Giddens; Christian McBride Big Band; Flying Toward The Sound: For Geri, With Love (tribute to Geri Allen); Jazz 100: Music of Dizzy, Mongo and Monk; Henry Threadgill Zooid; Vijay Iyer Sextet; Antonio Sanchez and Migration; DJ Logic’s Project Logic; Benny Golson Quartet; Uri Caine Trio; Dominick Farinacci; Gilad Hekselman; JoAnne Brackeen; David Torkanowksy; Peter Evans; Jason Palmer’s Berklee Septet; David Leon; and the Rhode Island Music Education Association Sr. All-State jazz Ensemble

Watch the Christian McBride Big Band here:

Watch Antonio Sanchez and Migration here:

Sunday, August 6, 2017, at Fort Adams:

The Roots; Andra Day; Maria Schneider Orchestra; Hudson; Philadelphia Experiment; Jason Moran: Fats Waller Dance Party; Tim Berne’s Snakeoil; Bokante; Theo Croker; Cyrus Chestnut Trio; Sean Jones Quintet; Cyrille Aimee; Vernon Reid; John Medeski; Marilyn Crispell; Orrin Evans; The University of Rhode Island Big Band; Newport Jazz Assembly Band; and the Massachusetts Music Educators Association All-Star Jazz Band

Watch the Maria Schneider Orchestra here: