Peter Madsen

Sphere Essence: Another Side of Monk

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After fully absorbing the songbook of Thelonious Monk, pianist Peter Madsen's dream of performing several of these works as a solo workout comes to fruition on this captivating release. Madsen's legacy entails some truly remarkable dates with the late saxophonist Tom Chapin, amid recordings for other jazz artists. Now, the pianist brandishes a personalized spin on Monk tunes such as "Thelonious," where he implements polychoral voicings and swirling chord clusters. Throughout this outing, he captures an aura and reshapes many of these works into what may appear to be a concise history of modern jazz piano.

Madsen incorporates various jazz-based elements into this program, including some classical stylizations during the opening moments of "Oska T." He intertwines much of Monk's off-meter rhythmic propensities into an assortment of stride piano, blues, and free-form conceptualizations. However, the pianist -- perhaps subliminally -- perpetuates concepts indicative of Monk's inimitable mystique by providing a forum for newfound invention. Naturally, since Monk's passing, there's a been a glut of covers by many of Madsen's peers, some of which leave little to one's imagination. Not the case here though, as the artist's brainchild imparts an indelible impression. Recommended.

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