Roch Lockyer: Monk's House

For his first CD, Nondirectional, Denver-area guitarist Roch Lockyer wanted his music to "reflect my respect for all whose shoulders I stand on." Obviously for "Monk's House," he's standing on the broad artistic shoulders of Thelonious Monk. In the song's opening statement, which vaguely evokes "Well You Needn't," Lockyer successfully transfers Monk's disjointed, angular style to his guitar. After settling into a more conventional bop vibe when trumpeter Ron Miles plays, Lockyer returns to model his solo after Monk's predilection for thick comping chords with a hint of atonality, prickly trips up and down the scales, and other unconventional tricks. He also throws in a few quick octaves for good measure. The guitarist skillfully conjures up the old ghost while maintaining a distinct character of his own. After all, a piece is not truly Monk-like unless it's a little off-kilter, in a charming but imaginative way. "Monk's House" fits the bill.

March 15, 2009 · 0 comments


John McLaughlin: Thelonius Melodius

John McLaughlin's Free Spirits featured Dennis Chambers on drums and Joey DeFrancesco on organ. It was the standard B-3 organ jazz trio format that McLaughlin had always loved. Of course, this trio was different. The playing was more aggressive (read that as fusion) and music from a wider swath was played. I like the B-3 sound okay, and DeFrancesco is a killer player. But I have my limits on the instrument. Yet more than that, McLaughlin's guitar tone was so similar to DeFrancesco's organ that when they played together you couldn't hear McLaughlin. In concert this was less problematic because you could see, but it was still there. This performance of "Thelonius Melodius," recorded during the band's Blue Note gig that yielded their Tokyo Live, was not included on that earlier album. I suspect this track was mixed differently, since you can hear McLaughlin much better!

"Thelonius Melodius" is a whirling blues romp that in many ways harkens back to McLaughlin's Tony Williams Lifetime days. There are stops and starts, sudden minor chord progressions that take the piece off center, plenty of unison playing, and energetic calls and responses. The only thing missing from the Lifetime sound is the distortion. McLaughlin can be clearly heard on this cut. It was always such a shame to know that he was playing something fantastic yet we couldn't quite hear it on the Live album. The interplay between Chambers, DeFrancesco and McLaughlin is at telepathic levels. The Free Spirits was far from my favorite McLaughlin band. Still, they were killing. Ironically, if this performance had been on Tokyo Live it would have been the album's best cut.

February 25, 2009 · 0 comments


Previous Page | Next Page