Andy Summers

Green Chimneys: The Music of Thelonious Monk

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Guitarist Andy Summers long ago shed his Police-man's uniform to take a stab at being a jazz fusion guitarist, and this is his toughest test, tackling 13 of Thelonious Monk's most well known pieces. His backing band has some considerable talent; drummer Peter Erskine, organist Joey DeFrancesco, trumpeter Walt Fowler and cellist Hank Roberts are outstanding jazz musicians, and prove their mettle throughout. The CD overall is inconsistent, starting with an out-of-tune bass and an inaccurate reading of the title track. But it gets much better with horn charts, the precise Erskine and searing DeFrancesco saving grace on "Hackensack." Then they really get down with Monk's stealth Misterioso feel on "Brilliant Corners," and an economical Summers works effectively on "Monk's Dream." Sting sings "'Round Midnight" and botches the lyrics, but they come back strong for most of the remainder of the disc, especially with a pristine take on "Ugly Beauty," a moderately raucous "Think of One," a free-for-all "Light Blue/Rhythm-A-Ning," with Erskine cutting loose, and Summers' courteous solo acoustic finale on "Ruby My Dear." Summers is rather noodle prone, though a sharp-edged John Abercrombie-type tone creeps in occasionally. You do hear considerable riffing, and less improvisation, so if you're more into Jeff Beck than, say, Larry Coryell, bon app├ętit. There's a fluid ease in Summers' playing that suggests a real comfort zone and genuine love for this music. Sometimes that can go a long way, but still, this is for special tastes outside mainstream jazz.

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