Thelonius Monk's music-with its quirky and challenging melodies, compelling progressions and traces of humor and poignancy running through everything-is the gift that keeps on giving. His tunes, in the right hands, can sound eternally fresh. So it's no big surprise that well-traveled guitarist Bobby Broom (a regular with Sonny Rollins, Dr. John and Chicago's Deep Blue Organ Trio) is handily able to turn 10 pieces written by or associated with Monk into small gems of musical discovery.
The cover of Plays For Monk
is a nod to the art from the 1957 album Monk's Music
, with Broom's guitar placed in the spot Monk occupied on the old cover. Joined by regular trio mates Dennis Carroll on bass and Kobie Watkins on drums, Broom takes on only one piece from that recording, a gorgeous, carefully sculpted rendition of the melancholy infused ballad "Ruby, My Dear." He stretches his sprawling, bluesy lines over the slow-ticking rhythm section, staying just behind the beat for maximum tension-and-release pleasure.
Broom skips some of the most-played Monk tunes (like "'Round Midnight" and "Straight, No Chaser") in favor of others, like gently twisting opener"Ask Me Now." which opens up for Carroll's conversant bass solo; the tricky, brushes-sizzling "Work," complete with a dancing fours-trading section with Watkins; and a parade-marching "Bemsha Swing." The trio fronts "In Walked Bud" with 16 bars of grinding groove work, and Broom spikes the up-tempo "Rhythm-a-ning" with a surprising chord substitution. He caps the set with a shimmering solo-guitar reading of the standard "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," a mesmerizing and inventive rendition that calls for more.