Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis -][- ORGAN MONK: Uwo in the Black –Mp3– [Greg Lewis, 2012 | Review] –
Self-taught organist Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis’ ambitious new recording daringly unearths these marvelous stones with his groundbreaking interpretations of ten classics by jazz pianist, innovator and composer Thelonious Monk on his sophomore album “Organ Monk: Uwo in the Black.” At a glance, “Uwo” in the North African Nubian dialect signifies the number two in their culture, with that said the New York native broaden voice augments through four distinctive originals which undeniably compliments this homage paid to the iconic renaissance man Thelonious Monk.
Lewis’s self-produced album was erected from his concept to record these glorious treasures by Monk and expand the range of these classics by enlisting his talented colleagues and band-mate Ron Jackson – guitar, Reginald Woods – tenor saxophone and longtime associate Nasheet Waits on drums takes the place of the phenomenal Cindy Blackman–Santana rounds out this remarkable quartet.
Influenced by legendary pioneers Larry Young and Jimmy Smith, he also studied with the legendary bassist Charles Mingus. While growing up the borough of Queens, Lewis developed his voice through the pearls of gospel music and his experience in the African American culture. Lewis’s devotion to his beloved music was extended when he met Monk-inspired African American Classical music. He also employed the lyrically distinct tapestry of sounds from the North African Nubian voicings are reflected on this wonderful project.
With chart-topping like the opening piece “Little Rootie Tootie,” he unleashes the mind-melting classic jazz, swingin’ and bop-grooves utilize the quartet’s strength and duteous interplay to the max. “In The Black – My Nephew,” pen by Lewis is at the core of the quartet’s multiplicity on this impromptu gem mirrors the timeless passages of the originals by Monk without fluttering.
The intense grooves of “Hump & Skippy” both Monk tunes are rendered from the vault of his repertoire are explosive and burns with relentless hard-blowing attitude. Greg and guys stretch, bent and shape these gems with controlled propulsive appetite is enunciated brilliantly by them. As I dig deeper, “Ugly Beauty” reveals the moody yet brawny-toned voice of influential Reginald Woods on tenor horn is underscored by the dramatics of Lewis on the B3.
“Zion’s Walk” also pen by Lewis utterly swings with unwavering momentum, emotion and dexterity. Lewis scores the finger-snappin’ “GCP,” on this piece the uptempo bop lines embedded and exalted with a firestorm of interplay by the quartet coordinates seamlessly with the Monk tunes. Lewis utilizes the talents of his esteemed sidemen unselfishly, as a composer and arranger with each selection he steps aside and gives them plenty of room to play!
“Bright Mississippi” is my favorite Monk tune, the harmony, melody and swagger is reminiscent of the glory days of jazz when this music was played with supreme proclivity and unswerving commitment. On the remaining selections (last three by Monk), Lewis and the gang’s uncanny approach is combined with a wealth of knowledge, inventiveness and respect to interpret these gems flawlessly is commendable, fresh and perfect memorial to this beloved icon in jazz.
Being this is my introduction to Greg Lewis’s music, as an accomplished organist his sprawling style, marveling finger tips, and tenacious feet work on the pedals is distinctive, warm and irresistible. With “Uwo in the Black, he’s dared to do and impressively so what others only talk about. Staying true to his nickname (Organ Monk) Lewis has boldly and creatively examined these amazing masterpieces and propelled them with indomitable maturity, complexity and purpose.
Recommended by Rob Young | Urban Flux Media | Review
Meet the Musicians:
Ron Jackson – guitar
Reginald R. Woods – tenor saxophone
Nasheet Waits – drums & cymbals
Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis – Hammond Organ
1) Little Rootie Tootie
2) In the Black – My Nephew
5) Ugly Beauty
6) Zion’s Walk
8) Stuffy Turkey
9) Bright Mississippi
11) Why Not
12) Crepuscule with Nellie
14) 52nd Street Theme
[Total Time: 69:31]
Produced by Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis – [4 compositions by Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis and ten tracks by Thelonious Monk.]
For more information about the Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis, please visit, greglewismusic.com