Matt Lavelle, cornet/flugelhorn/alto clarinet; John Pietaro, vibraphone/bodhran/ congas/percussion.
Here is another artistic endeavor to celebrate Thelonius Monk’s historic compositions. Right off the bat, Lavelle’s horn grabs my attention, singing “Epistrophe” with Pietaro using percussion techniques and vibraphone to support Lavelle’s solo journey. I enjoyed the simplicity of sound that allowed Monks melodies to shine. For just two people to decide to provide an entire album of Monk’s music for our listening pleasure, I assume they must be improvisational wizards. Here is an artistic work of passion. Some of the songs are eight and nine minutes long. It takes talent, inspiration and tenacity for two people to fill up nearly ten minutes playing a single song. Lavelle takes time to talk to himself with his various horns on a single tune, laying down the cornet to pick up alto clarinet or flugelhorn. Pietaro, an adept percussionist, paints the tunes with various shades of instrumentation on vibraphone, bells, using whistle sounds, congas and various other percussive layers. This is an album of personal expression and passionate improvisation. – Dee Dee McNeil