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Esbjörn Svensson Trio | Plays Monk – [Diesel Music, 2007]

Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Plays MonkUntil the untimely recent death of pianist/namesake Esbjorn Svensson in a scuba diving accident, the Esbjorn Svensson Trio was known to its fans for its imaginative compositions and virtuoso execution. On this remarkable early effort, the Trio tackles the music of legendary jazz man Thelonious Monk with an alacrity that belies the difficulty of the music and manages to imbue it with a touch that makes the music their own.

I lay no claim to being an expert on Monk’s music, but I have heard most of these tunes before and can tell you that you will likely be pleasantly stunned on hearing the Trio’s renditions.

I liked E.S.T. Plays Monk the first time I heard it and like it more every time I put it on. There is much to enjoy in the Trio’s approach. My favorites are: a suave rendition of I Mean You; a sophisticated ‘Round Midnight; a spirited Bemsha Swing; a swinging, melodic In Walked Bud; and the delicate blues of Eronel.

The Trio’s play is fluid and often seems effortless. Though these tunes are of course piano-driven, each member of the trio gets many chances to shine and each makes the most of his chances. Listeners should be pleased by the judicious selection of a mixture of slow and fast tempo numbers.

EST Plays Monk may seem expensive and it is, but it is worth every penny. I’ve noted over the years that it has rarely been available and when it is, it quickly disappears. When I finally got the chance to order, it was “temporarily out of stock”, but amazon was able to fulfill that order within a reasonable time-frame. If this is a CD that interests you, I advise you to get it while you can because no one knows if it will be reissued once it sells out. —Kurt Harding

Original Release Date: 1996

Source: Amazon.com