Ellis Marsalis/Ellis Marsalis Quartet: An Open Letter to Thelonious

Track List

>Crepuscule with Nellie
>Monk's Mood
>Straight, No Chaser
>Light Bue
>Ruby, My Dear
>'Round Midnight
>Evidence (Encore)

Album Reviews:

Down Beat (p.85) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[O]n 'Jackie-ing' the band opens with a fragmented approach to the beat on the first few verses, building tension that releases into a breezy, straightahead groove."

Album Notes

Ellis Marsalis/Ellis Marsalis Quartet: Ellis Marsalis (piano); Derek Douget (saxophone, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Jason Stewart (bass instrument); Jason Marsalis (drums).

Audio Mixer: Jason Marsalis.

Liner Note Author: Jason Marsalis.

Recording information: Music Shed, New Orleans, LA (10/27/2007-11/07/2007).

Editor: Jason Marsalis.

Photographers: Jeff Strout; Herman Leonard.

One of the most challenging demands placed on a jazz musician is interpreting another's works while utilizing the same instrumentation as the composer. Veteran pianist and jazz educator Ellis Marsalis admits that at one point in his career, he was not objective about Thelonious Monk as a composer, preferring the bop of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. But with the passage of time and the opening of his ears to the subtle nuances of Monk's compositions, he is perfectly at ease playing his music on these 2007 sessions, which include his youngest son Jason Marsalis on drums, bassist Jason Stewart, and tenor saxophonist Derek Douget (who also doubles on soprano sax). While the opener "Crepescule with Nellie" doesn't stray too far from Monk's concept, the rollicking treatment of "Jackie-Ing" opens up the piece a good bit. Douget switches to soprano for a funky, New Orleans-flavored interpretation of "Epistrophy." The driving take of "Teo," a blues that Monk recorded just a few times, brings to the forefront one of his lesser known works. Throughout the date Marsalis keeps Monk's music very much alive with his inspired interpretations of the legend's compositions. ~ Ken Dryden


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