Austin Jazz Workshop
Epistrophy: Austin Jazz Workshop Plays Thelonious Monk (AusJazz Music)
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., May 26, 2017
You're likely not familiar with Austin Jazz Workshop, but if your children attend Austin public school, they've been treated to a live performance by this venerable aggregation sometime over the past 23 years. Their sixth album is a timely celebration of idiosyncratic pianist/composer Thelonious Monk in this year of his birth centennial. Rather than rehash the usual warhorses, this quintet, led by alto saxophonist Michael Melinger, admirably revives 11 lesser-known gems, including "Played Twice," "Hackensack," "Criss Cross," and "Thelonious." Trombonist Andre Hayward is no stranger to Monk's music, having won the prestigious International Thelonious Monk Competition in 2003. Pianist Floyd Domino, well-known in country music circles, makes a welcome and all-too-rare appearance on a jazz date. As primary soloists, all three gentlemen stand out. Veteran bassist Michael Stevens and drummer Norm Bergeron form a solid rhythm section. Gently beautiful "Light Blue" stands out, but the band schools on every track.