Monk Dreams Hallucinations and Nightmares
Like snowflakes spinning through the universe, the ten tracks on Monk Dreams Hallucinations and Nightmares have their own individual signature, a texture precious to behold because of the feelings and shapes which emanate from this homage to the creative genius of Thelmonious Monk, in this the centenary of his birth.
The breadth of this recording, as an instrument of elucidating what modern jazz is capable of, is encyclopedic; you can discover how a metrically unsettled tempo returns with cascading figures in counterpoint (Dry Bean Stew); want to know how a few more sixths in mixed winds can end a harmonic piece in ritardando, check out International Man of Mystery, or if you are curious about what it means to mix reckless abandon with breathless woodwinds and relentless brass, spend time with You Dig.
Accompanying this attractively packaged CD is the most expository of insights into the genesis and execution of each track, all original bar the closing Round Midnight which, because of its enduring appeal and association with Monk, is given a very original interpretation here, with the changing of gears from a hush to a roar richly orchestrated by the large band.
At the helm is Frank Carlberg, who set out with Monk Dreams Hallucinations and Nightmares to come up with new perspectives on Monk’s music and on compositions for large jazz ensemble in general, through balancing improvisational impulses with exciting orchestral and structural designs. Thus with Rhymes there are many allusions to Monk-like shapes in the music by the horn section, and Carlberg throws into the mix some poetry by Clark Coolridge read by Paul Lichter.
Monk Dreams Hallucinations and Nightmares is not intended by Carlberg as a tribute album, but rather as a celebration of the beauty and vitality of his music that has had the most impact on him as a musician: others have free scope here to make their mark, like Brian Landrus on clarinet on A Darker Shade of Blue Light, John Carlson on trumpet on Dry Bean Stew and Johannes Weidenmuller on bass on Rhymes.
Is the best kept for last? Not strictly true, but Round Midnight bookends the collection with Carlberg’s ‘compositional transformation’ of the original, and is worth skipping to for Kirk Knuffe’s solo on cornet, a wonderfully sustained breath of brilliance. If eleven minutes is too long and you only have half the time to sample the brilliance of Monk Dreams Hallucinations and Nightmares, then stick on You Dig when you hop out of bed. It ain’t rocket science: you gotta dig this stuff.