[JPL] Re; Riley's Monk Legacy band.

Jae Sinnett jaejazz at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 17 18:12:36 EDT 2006

Arturo, I agree totally with believing Monk would probably have enjoyed his music played in variations. My point though was separate of this thinking. It's a little tricky to try to explain what I mean with this but at times when lets say a guitar player composes something....like on the Jim Hall release "Dialogues"...the compostion "Calypso Joe".....for example, its fit is so perfect for the guitar that I think having a piano instead of the guitar playing wouldn't really get to the intention of the composer ..conceptually. The voicings, directions of the lines, etc.....lend itself perfectly for guitar. Now there are other Hall compositions that lay well for piano.
  With Monk.....I don't think he thought this consciously.....but his music to my ears is certainly designed for piano.....mainly because of his rhythmic touch. Since the piano is a percussive instrument ....this makes total since in how his music is so connected to the piano. Some play(ed) it more rhythmically than others. McCoy Tyner's music is another example. To a lesser degree....Chick and Herbie but I've heard beautiful guitar arrangements on pieces like "Dolphin Dance" and "Windows." Their music is so rhythmically designed for piano but not so much the same thing for lets say Duke, Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett - rhythmically speaking. I can hear the guitar even more clearly with their music. It's like Wayne Shorter...why would he choose to play soprano on a piece instead of tenor? There is a reason. Same with piano vs guitar. 
  While I compose from the piano I don't consider myself a piano player. I would certainly love to hear a pianist view on this or a composer and arranger like John La Barbara or guitar player. It's interesting really. 
  And last question my friend.....on "Oye Como Va,"   is that three two or two three clave? 
  Jae Sinnett 

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Jae wrote <<< I'm curious to know what folk think of Ben Riley's Monk Legacy
band.....using guitar instead of piano....playing Monk's music? Of course
it's been done before with his music and in most cases for these ears there
is an uncomfortable emptyness. >>>>>

Not being able to get an opinion from the man himself, I base the following
on instinct and what I know about Thelonious through reading about him,
hearing others who knew him comment and through my conversations with T S. I
would have to opine that Monk would not want to be typecast as only
composing music for piano, I honestly believe he would like his music being
interpreted in as many formats and styles as possible. I am also confidant
Monk would like Ft. Apache's Latin take on his music as well as the myriads
of covers of his compositions, providing the musicianship was of a high

This reminds me of Tito Puente and Carlos Santana, circa 1971 Santana
recorded a Latin rock version of Tito's early 60s Oyé Como Va which went
nowhere on the radio nor did he play it much in concerts because Tito didn't
particular like the song. Years later when Tito received his first royalty
check in the mail after Carlos remade it, all of a sudden it became Tito's
favorite song and he would always play it in performance thereafter.
Naturally this is a different scenario especially since there won't be big
bucks involved as with Oyé Como Va. By the way Tito based Oyé Como Va on
Israel López Cachao's Chanchullo which the Tito band recorded a year before
they recorded Oyé Como Va, Chanchullo goes back to the 1940s.



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