White Men Can't Monk

Chuck Marohnic

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White Men Can't Monk Review

by Steve Loewy

"Polite" is an adjective that comes immediately to mind when listening to this quartet, which is billed as the Chuck Marohnic Trio with guitarist John Stowell. The group plays lovely fare for a late night club, with subdued volume, immaculate phrasing, and tasteful choices of notes. Don't expect anything new or revolutionary: while the tempos do vary, there is a conservative hue that infuses every measure. Stowell plays the part of the horn, with his guitar generally taking the lead and performing solo improvisations like a saxophone. Curiously, while the album alludes to Thelonious Monk, there are no tunes by the great eccentric, and his influence on Marohnic's style appears de minimus. The tracks include a couple written by Marohnic, with a nice selection of lesser-known pieces by well-known composers, including Miles Davis' "Nardis," Cole Porter's "Dream Dancing," Jerome Kern's "Nobody Else but Me," and Steve Swallow's "Peau Douce." Marohnic's "Some of These Things" is a variation of "All the Things You Are." Most of the playing is relaxed and fine, like warm slippers and an aged wine on a snowy Sunday. While this recording is unlikely to win any awards, it is nonetheless a reserved, unassuming, unpretentious, professional performance by some disciplined musicians who swing lightly yet impressively.

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