dtrcd121.jpg (35233 bytes)

Joshua Breakstone - Let's Call This Monk!


Joshua Breakstone - Guitar, Dennis Irwin - Bass, Mickey Roker - Drums

1. Let's Call This (4:16)
2. Work (6:21)
3. We See (5:08)
4. Reflections (7:25)
5. Monk's Dream (8:55)
All compositions by
Thelonious Monk
6. I Mean You (4:13)
7. Ruby, My Dear (8:47)
8. Eronel (5:38)
9. Brilliant Corners (5:53)
10. Humph (6:11)
Total Time (63:15)


Listen to CD Tracks

     This is my twelfth recording as a leader and I know what you’re thinking - what’s with this guy and the theme albums? Yes, I’ve done several. To me, they represent an opportunity to do something unique, a special project as opposed to “regular” recordings which are more representative of general repertoire or whatever songs (however special they may be to me) I may be playing at the time of a recording date.

    When Jamey suggested recording a CD of all Thelonious Monk compositions I was immediately interested. I had been fooling around with several of Monk’s tunes at the time, exploring the challenges of adapting Monk’s music to the guitar. Foremost is what I see as being a dynamic balance which exists in Monk’s own playing between lots and not much; dense voicings and tonal clusters versus simply played triads, sections of rapidly moving chords as opposed to places where little happens in a harmonic sense. In terms of voicings, much of it simply does not translate to the guitar; it’s either too spread out, too big, or too closely clustered. In terms of harmony, these are the challenges and lessons unique to Monk’s writing that have to be first confronted and then mastered no matter which instrument one plays. Fun.

    Each of these songs is special. Let’s Call This, We See, and Monk’s Dream all exhibit striking sections of no harmonic movement. Work is a wonderful example of strong melodic writing that also serves to integrate the bass into the playing of the melody. I’ve always been drawn especially to Monk’s ballads (I recorded a medley of Monk’s Mood and Pannonica on a previous trio album, entitled 9X3), and Ruby, My Dear and Reflections are among his most expressive and moving. Humph (from what I believe to be Monk’s first recording session as a later, dating to 1947) is rarely heard, but another of the many I Got Rhythm variants which is good to improvise on. Brilliant Corners is a challenge in every respect; tempo, harmony, rhythms, melody and form. I can think of no other song in which the original tempo quadruples as is the case here. I Mean You (which received it’s recording debut on a 1946 Coleman Hawkins recording) is perhaps the most widely played of all the tunes contained herein. I’ve heard that Eronel was in fact composed by Sadik Hakim (for his girlfriend? wife? Lenore?), but due to the fact that it’s been so widely credited to Monk, and that I like it so much, I jumped at the chance to record it here.

    Dennis Irwin has played on six of my previous recordings. He’s a great musician, with an approach to music, the sound of the bass, and a sense of swing, that has influenced bassists, and other instrumentalists as well. Mickey Roker has long been one of the greats of his instrument. Off the top of my head, I know he’s performed and recorded with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Art Farmer, Lee Morgan, Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, and the MJQ, to give an extremely short list (and is on two of my all time favorite recordings - “Sonny Rollins On Impulse!”, and Phil Woods’s “The Rite Of Swing”). Like Dennis, musicians the world over look up to him.

    Our approach has been to try and strip down or condense Monk’s compositions to what we see as being the essentials, then use them as a means of “saying something” in our own way. No attempt was made to mimic, reenact, parrot, pick your favorite adjective, Monk’s own playing or approach to these tunes. So, being “condensed” in a way, I feel there’s a lot of music on this one hour CD. We hope you enjoy our excursion into the world of Thelonious Monk.

Joshua Breakstone
- Jan. '97