Joel Harrison: Straight, No Chaser (variations)


Straight, No Chaser (variations)


Joel Harrison (guitar)


Urban Myths (HighNote Records – HCD 7194)

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Joel Harrison (guitar), David Binney (alto sax), Christian Howes (violin), Daniel Kelly (keyboards), Stephan Crump (bass), Jordan Person (drums), Fima Ephron (electric bass), Ambrose Akinmuire (trumpet), Corey King (trombone), Jerome Sabbag (tenor sax).

Composed by Thelonious Monk


Recorded: December 15-16, 2008


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

Oh man, there's something more than delicious about taking Monk's thing and funking with it. That's just what Joel Harrison has done here. “Straight No Chaser” is run headlong into some serious funk. The result is serious and stuttering fun. I'm a sucker for a good funk riff and there's plenty of that. Harrison kicks things off with some killer rhythm guitar that introduces the main thought: take Monk's riff and pull it into as many related shapes as you can. Some of the solos, especially by violinist Christian Howes and trumpeter Akinmuire, squish Monk's melody so much that it's like a musical funhouse mirror. The 'normal' breakpoints in those well-worn contours just aren't where they used to be. This is a good thing for all parties concerned, Monk himself in particular. Despite his curmudgeonly nature, I'd be willing to bet that he would have loved to hear his music inspiring new artists and being the driving force behind such creative interpretations.

Reviewer: Mark Saleski

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