The Rocco John Group: Mischievous Mystic
The Rocco John Group
Rocco John Iacovone (alto & soprano saxes),
Michael Irwin (trumpet), Aaron Keane (bass), Dalius Naujokaitis (drums, percussion).
Composed by Rocco John Iacovone.
Recorded: New York, September 2008
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
Blues forms in jazz are as common as polka in Eastern European music, but mutated blues forms are typically more interesting. That's what Thelonious Monk loved to do and Rocco John Iacovone does on "Mischievous Mystic." The lack of a chordal instrument puts some of the responsibility of carrying the melody on bassist Aaron Keane, but he doesn't do it entirely, and that's intended. After a brief statement of the lumbering theme by both horns, it's up to the listener to fill in those blanks.
The spartan arrangement serves to accentuate the lonely, fragile quality of Iacovone's alto. Even more haunting is when Irwin begins the handoff from Iacovone by making his trumpet weep. Both play a game of harmonic shuffleboard, getting as close to the edge of tonality without falling off.
Iacovone has stated that he wrote this song in tribute to Monk. No one can truly capture Monk's style of composing; the best one can hope for is to approximate his "mischievous" spirit. On this tune, Rocco John and his group do just that.
Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron