Tag: Thelonious Monk

Could Become a Milestone of the Genre: Harmolodic Monk

CD Review: UR9953.CoverA_Flat_for CDB
By Vittorio Lo Conte

Between the music of Thelonious Monk and that of Ornette Coleman there is quite a distance, yet the two musicians on this album manage to delete this gap and make a tribute to Monk different from anything done so far – and that’s saying a lot. Matt Lavelle, here on cornet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet, has studied with Ornette Coleman and is a member of Bern Nix‘ quartet, the guitarist in Coleman’s historic group Prime Time. The Harmolodic concept was developed by the renowned saxophonist Ornette Coleman and is applied to the melodies written by Monk. Along with Lavelle is John Pietaro, who performs on vibraphone and percussion, including bongas and the bodhrán, which is a traditional Irish drum. How does this work? Very well! The musicfreed from any tonal center, as well as still preaching Ornette Coleman, breathes, and here the vibraphone does its part very sympathetically with Lavelle’s instruments. It is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish of well known songs, Ruby My Dear, Blue Monk, Pannonica. The only piece recorded with the technique of overdubbing is Monk’s Mood, here the alto clarinet and cornet play together and seek the background percussion of Pietaro. Do not miss Round Midnight, which in this capacity is minimalist and becomes a song of soft beauty, like the late night title implies. The idea of the two musicians and producer Jack De Salvo is realized so perfectly that we are facing a record that could become a milestone of the genre. When hearing so much beauty, who wouldn’t think of a Harmolodic treatment of the music of Duke Ellington or Rodgers & Hart.
Review in Italian:

Fra la musica di Thelonious Monk e quella di Ornette Coleman c´è una bella distanza, eppure i due autori di questa incisione sono riusciti a eliminarla e fare un omaggio a Monk differente da tutto quello fatto finora (e non è poco!) dai colleghi. Matt Lavelle, qui alla cornetta, flicorno e clarinetto alto ha studiato con Ornette Coleman e suonato insieme a Bern Nix, chitarrista nello storico gruppo Prime Time di Coleman. Il concetto armolodico sviluppato dal famoso sassofonista è applicato alle melodie scritte da Monk, insieme a Lavelle c´è John Pietaro, che si esibisce al vibrafono ed alle percussioni, alle bongas ed al bodhrán, che è un tamburello della tradizione irlandese. Come funziona? Benissimo! La musica liberata da qualunque centro tonale, così come predica ancora Coleman, respira, e qui il vibrafono fa la sua parte, molto empatico con gli strumenti di Lavelle. È un piacere ascoltarli dall´inizio alla fine su brani conosciutissimi, Ruby My DearBlue MonkPannonica. L´unico pezzo registrato con la tecnica della sovrincisione è Monk´s Mood, qui il clarinetto alto e la cornetta giocano a cercarsi sullo sfondo delle percussioni di Pietaro. Non poteva mancare Round Midnight, che in questa veste minimalista diventa un brano dalla bellezza soffusa, notturna come vuole il titolo. L´idea dei due musicisti e del produttore Jack De Salvo è realizzata perfettamente, così che ci troviamo davanti ad un disco che potrebbe diventare una pietra miliare del genere. Chissà che qualcun altro, ascoltata tanta bellezza, non pensi ad un trattamento armolodico delle musiche di Duke Ellington o Rodgers & Hart.

Gina Loves Jazz on Harmolodic Monk

Harmolodic Monk

Matt Lavelle Jon Pietaro "Harmolodic Monk"Trumpet and flugelhorn artist Matt Lavelle studied with Ornette Coleman back in 2005 and subsequently took on the alto clarinet as well. The avant-garde musician who also has his own blog, teams up with John Pietaro, the vibraphonist and percussionist for an album of the music of Thelonious Monk. Both are known for their more or less radical views so it only seems fit to take on the music of another radical.

Both totally reconstruct Monk’s music and use Ornette Coleman‘s philosophy of harmolodics which, in his own words, is defined by “the use of the physical and the mental of one’s own logic made into an expression of sound to bring about the musical sensation of unison executed by a single person or with a group.” Which means that tunes like “Round Midnight”, “Monk’s Mood” or “Green Chimneys” are all totally open for free expression and all musical elements have the same value. At times, though, it seems that the melody has more meaning and at other times, speed and time seem to be the main focus only to come back later in the tune to the original idea of bringing the progression of the song into order.

I must confess that I was listening to their record while some heavy construction work was going on in our apartment building so that I had to turn the volume up significantly and only then came close to enjoying their loose feel on the mostly well-known Monk originals stripping them down naked and then putting their own intriguing ideas to them. Pietaro also plays the bodhrán which is an ancient Irish drum made with a wooden body and a goat-skin head, and is played with a double-headed stick.

Lavelle’s alto clarinet is front and center in his solo performance of “Crepuscule With Nellie” telling the story of Monk’s wife and muse Nellie. In “Ruby My Dear”, it is Pietaro taking the solo spot on another ballad which was written for another of Monk’s favorites, this time his first love Rubie Richardson.

A lot of senses are engrossed on this album which puts totally new frames on ten of Thelonious Monk’s tunes.

Download Harmolodic Monk HERE

×