Pianist Eric Reed has claimed that Monk's music makes it possible "to travel way out there, if you're willing to go where it can take you." On The Baddest Monk, Reed and his colleagues prove more than willing. The Monk classics recorded here illustrate the breadth of Reed's thought on one of the most idiosyncratic of jazz composers. This is not another Monk tribute album, dragging out the usual suspects for another tired line-up but it is rather a vital, living and insightful re-examination of Monk, both the man and his music, as seen through the imagination of a group of sympathetic and like-minded artists. Monk's flat-fingered keyboard work was completely unique and uniquely intertwined with his music. His piano playing was an integral part of those songs and very much one of the major components of his greatness. It is difficult to imagine one without the other. But Reed and his ensemble are able to penetrate to the very core the Monk's writing, dismantle its component parts and reassemble them so that they contain not only the essence of Monk, but that of the players themselves.
ERIC REED, piano • With: Etienne Charles, trumpet • Seamus Blake, tenor saxophone • Matt Clohesy, bass • Henry Cole, drums • José James, vocal (on 'Round Midnight only)
TRACKS: Rhythm-a-ning • Epistrophy • Green Chimneys • Monk's Mood • 'Round Midnight • Evidence • Monk Beurre Rouge • Bright Mississippi • The Baddest Monk