Guitarist Broom, a long-time sideman to tenor titan Sonny Rollins, has released a series of exceptional trio recordings in which he explores, deconstructs and otherwise re-invents familiar pop material (2001's "Modern Man" and "Stand!" and 2007's "Song and Dance"). On this exemplary outing he investigates Monk's music, introducing some daring new arrangements while maintaining a reverence for the material.
"Evidence" opens with a grooving ostinato bass line by Dennis Carroll that would not be out of place on a hip-hop track. Drummer Kobie Watkins and Broom swing on top of this intriguing undercurrent until the full trio kicks into an uptempo swinging 4/4 pulse at the 1:11 mark. Similarly, the trio takes a deliberate backbeat approach at the outset of "In Walked Bud" before heading into a freewheeling swing section in which Broom nimbly drops in quotes from various Monk tunes.
Broom exudes tasteful restraint and easy swing feel throughout while also showcasing his considerable chops, as in his Benson-esque fretboard flurries on "Lulu's Back in Town" and "Rhythm-A-Ning." He thumbs octaves through a beautiful take on "Ruby, My Dear" in an obvious nod to another towering guitar influence, Wes Montgomery. And his lush solo presentation of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is a virtual clinic in the are of chordal melody playing.
Watkins, a sensational young drummer on the scene who is now playing in Rollins' band, affects a nice, relaxed, slightly behind the beat feel on "Ask Me Now" and also on an authentic N'awlins second-line rendition of "Bemsha Swing." On "Reflections" he plays subtle polyrhythms on tom toms against his steady ride-cymbal pulse, effectively putting a new slant on that gorgeous Monk ballad. And his brisk brushwork and insistent swing factor on "Work" set the tone for some of Broom's most adventurous single-note extrapolations of the collection. Highly recommended for both guitar aficionados and Monk fans alike.