T.J. Kirk is a guitars/bass/drums quartet whose name reflects a bizarre and wonderful repertoire: they are devoted to the interpretation of works by Thelonious Monk ("T."), James Brown ("J.") and Rahsaan Roland Kirk ("Kirk"). Like Paul Motian's Electric Bebop Band, these four have a solid grounding in both jazz and rock; unlike the Motian band, these guys all wear fezzes and are capable of making a funkily cogent medley of Monk's "In Walked Bud" and Brown's "I Got to Move." And while Motian's group focuses primarily on solos, T.J. Kirk is all about settings; it's the reggae version of Kirk's "Volunteered Slavery" (complete with dubwise detour) and the band's almost grungy take on "Shuffle Boil" that will catch and hold your attention, whereas Will Bernard's and John Schott's solos are mostly workmanlike and not terribly remarkable. Elsewhere, the band gives up the funk without downplaying the harmonic complexity of such classics as "Epistrophy" and "Serenade to a Cuckoo." Plainly put, this is a great album, perfect for bringing along to parties or cranking up in the car.
T.J. Kirk Review
by Rick Anderson