To celebrate what would have been his father Thelonious Monk's 80th birthday, drummer T.S. Monk put together an all-star group (an expanded version of his sextet) and toured, performing an all-Thelonious program. Just prior to the beginning of the live performances, T.S. and his band recorded this CD. The music is excellent, but there are so many guest artists making cameo appearances (including trumpeters Roy Hargrove, Clark Terry, Arturo Sandoval and Wallace Roney, Wayne Shorter on soprano, tenors Grover Washington Jr. and Jimmy Heath, pianists Herbie Hancock and Geri Allen, bassists Ron Carter, Christian McBride and Dave Holland and singers Dianne Reeves and Kevin Mahogany) that one never really gets to hear Monk's band very much. Considering that T.S.'s unit includes altoist Bobby Watson and singer Nnenna Freelon (both of whom are only heard from briefly), it is a pity that he opted for so many unnecessary guests. There are good versions of such tunes as "Little Rootie Tootie" (which has a very effective Grover Washington Jr. tenor solo), "Crepuscule With Nellie" (one of the few renditions of a band actually stretching out on this theme), and "Bright Mississippi," plus the debut of a recently discovered Monk composition ("Two Timer"), so this set is recommended. But one is left looking forward to hearing the actual T.S. Monk ensemble interpret the songs.
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AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow