Friday, June 15, 2007


Monk on Mondays
Monk’s Music Trio
CMB Records

While New York might be the undisputed center of the jazz universe, there remain many talented jazz musicians performing regularly with little fanfare due to their distance from the City. One such band is the Monk’s Music Trio, an enjoyable group that regularly performs the music of Thelonious Monk on Mondays in a San Francisco café, from which comes the title of their latest CD, Monk on Mondays.

Evidently, the MMT has held their semi-regular Monday gig at the Simple Pleasures Café since 1999, which ought to qualify them as a local institution. When in the Bay Area, they sound like they are well worth checking out. They do not have a website (at least not popping up quickly on Google), but the address is: 3434 Balboa Street, in “the outer Richmond District.”

As for the Mondays CD, it is a respectful, but entertaining tribute to their musical hero. On this outing, the MMT particularly excels on the bluesier Monk standards, like “Something in Blue” and “Light Blue,” the latter featuring a drum prelude from de facto leader Chuck Bernstein.

Throughout, Si Perkoff demonstrates his dedication to Monk’s spirit, but plays with a slightly lighter, swinging attack. “Let’s Call This,” for instance, is a breezy, up-tempo opener. “Brake’s Sake” may be their most adventurous arrangement, moving Sam Bevans’ bass to the forefront. While many well-known Monk standards are represented here, the MMT wisely included some less recorded tunes, like “Locomotive.”

Like Herbie Nicholls and Joe Harriott, Monk’s compositions were so rich and challenging they can easily sustain a group devoted solely to their performance. In this case, hearing the MMT play Monk should also make for a fun Monday night if you are in the neighborhood.