This is the third cd recorded by a guitarist and devoted to the music of the great Thelonius Monk that I have listened to and reviewed in the last two years.. why the music of this pianist, of this giant of jazz fascinate so much guitarists and invite them to measure themselves on the strange alchemies of his standards?
This time is the turn of Elliott Sharp, curious guitar geek from the aerodynamic head and from the unmistakable talent. True veteran "honoris causa" of the downtown scene, Sharp has intelligently and creatively to distribute his own talent among compositions of contemporary music for strings quartets, blues hard-core quintets, electronics, orchestral music, movie soundtracks, avant-garde jazz and guitar’s utopias, everything without a false footstep and giving to himself a perfect reputation and an incredible long discography.
That's why this record with five Monk’s passages completely revisited for acoustic guitar attracts me so much: I hoped in a new vision, in a new original musical perspective. And I have not been disappointed. If I had to make an architectural comparison between this cd and the “classical” way to play Monk’s music I will choose the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao by Frank Gehry compared to the one in New York planned by Frank Lloyd Wright: a gust, new possibilities, new ideas. It already plays as a declaration of intents the fact that otherwise from other things by Sharp here we don't find computer’s effects, noise or feedbacks to which us devotees have been accustomed for a long time, but the "simple" sound of an acoustic guitar.
While the music of Monk will be always the universal "Monk", here Sharp plays it with his finger picking old folk way to play. Surely his immersions into the blues with the Terraplane band has left the sign since Bensha Swing seems to be played by Woody Guthrie and Epistrophy dances on the handle of his guitar to a speed that suddenly makes it unrecognizable. Certainly the jazz's purists as Wyntons Marsalis would have something to say, but this is not “freeze” Monk, this Sharp that plays "his" Monk! In any other way could hear Monk played with a “sharp” guitar slide? And whether to say about 'Round Midnight? The whole history of the jazz is ready to judge a musician for his way to play this standard. Sharp succeeds in providing a new way to play it at the same time simple but completely estranging, a complete revision out ompletely from any canon and leaving the listener with opened mouth.
I have decided to love a lot of this record, wrapped in a beautiful packaging, an irresistible call for a record’s fetishist lime myself. God bless you, Mr. Sharp!