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Jimmy Owens, The Monk Project

Jimmy Owens -][- The Monk Project -(MP3)- [IPO Recordings, 2012 | Review]

As any veteran jazz enthusiast will concur, trumpeter | flugelhornist Jimmy Owens needs no introduction. In his own right, Owen’s a principle player in the stable of his luminaires in mainstream jazz. With his latest endeavor, he pays homage by instinctively transforming the pulse and spirit of the music of the legendary Thelonious Monk composer-pianist extraordinaire on his latest recording “The Monk Project” now available on IPO Recordings.

On this project, Owens tackled this collective by calling in top-shelve talented musicians to record this record: includes the irreplaceable Wycliffe Gordon – Trombone, Marcus Strickland – saxophone, Howard Johnson – Tuba/baritone saxophone, Kenny Barron – piano, and Winard Harper – drums.

Owens intelligently approaches each composition with stamina and respect to these ten daunting masterpieces. On the opener “Bright Mississippi,” it is evident Owens tonality is clearly poignant as his horn vibrates through and through the intricate passage with precision. This explosive gem sets the tempo to remind us that he is more than capable to form this collection of standards in a way that hasn’t been done before.

Considered an immortal figure in jazz, Monks’ music can conceivably be a massive undertaking for most musicians. Furthermore, the veteran Jimmy Owens boldly takes the proper steps to complete this mission with a performance that supersedes the norm.

At a glance, Owens creativity doesn’t ease up with “Well You Needn’t.” His understanding of this music increases beyond the obvious explorations most might endeavor. The gritty impromptu groove of “Blue Monk” groans without any pretentious refinements the posse channels they’re way through with tailor-made downhome attributes jams with sobering intensity.
The pulse of these organic sounds on this session continues to resonate with its way to the top with familiar bop-style swagger on “Stuffy Turkey.” Owens and the crew are poised and successfully slow –walk this gem without disarming the intended original melodies like nobody’s business if they do.

From the opener to the end, with pieces like Pannonica, Brilliant Corners, and Reflections Monk fans and newcomers alike will probably be amazed by ensembles ability to honor this music by harboring the voicings of Monks’ musical concept. From my point of view, they’re persistent and loyal students of the art of jazz. As comrades they tenaciously inject their mind-blowingly technical prowess into the body of this magnificent repertoire of music titled “The Monk Project” flawlessly with authority.

Review by Rob Young | The Urban Flux