Drummer Monk's follow-up to the 1998 Jazz CD of the Year Monk on Monk is a departure from both that album and his previous pop-funk efforts. Playing Roland V-10 electric drums and additional acoustic percussion, Monk and arranger Don Sickler are striving for a different sound, which they largely achieve. Diversity is the password, as the two avoid getting stuck in ruts or etched in stone, while using jazz foundations to create organs of woodwind- and brass-fired beauty, tastefully triggered by percussion. The middle of the CD really defines their sound; Donald Brown's "Smile of the Snake" has a broader, slyer grin than the original version, and is much faster and funkier. The James Williams piece "A Touching Affair" sports a tabla and funk-lite sound that would please Creed Taylor. (Note: ex-Jazz Messengers Brown and Williams are pianists -- not on this session -- from Memphis.) Highlights include the hard-bopping "Squeaky Clean" and the simply gorgeous horns on the aforementioned "Heart" and the Jazz Messenger-ish "A Chant for Bu." The CD goes out with a bang on the title track, inexorably funky but with as potent and punchy a horn chart as you'll hear -- fully realized, deliberate, jazzy. Saxophonists Willie Williams and Bobby Porcelli are outstanding throughout, especially when they play together. Sickler, in his double duty as arranger and trumpeter, is quite innovative and dependable. Monk made a bold move in doing a recording such as this, and it should be appreciated that he did it his way.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos