Mast, Thelonious Sphere Monk  
Thelonious Sphere Monk
Label: World Galaxy
Release Year: 2018
Style: Jazz & Blues
  1. Misterioso (Reprise)
2. Evidence (Feat Jonah Levine, Dan Rosenboom, Gavin Templeton)
3. Bemsha Swing
4. Ask Me Now (Feat Brian Marsella)
5. Well You Needn’t (Feat Chris Speed)
6. Epistrophy (Feat Dan Rosenboom, Gavin Templeton)
7. ‘Round Midnight (Feat Brian Marsella)
8. Blue Monk (Feat Jason Fraticelli)
9. Oska T
10. Nutty (Feat Makaya Mccraven, Dan Rosenboom, Gavin Templeton)
11. Straight No Chaser (Feat Brian Marsella)
12. Friday The 13th
13. Let’s Cool One (Feat Makaya Mccraven, Jonah Levine)
14. Pannonica
15. Trinkle Tinkle
16. Misterioso
  MAST’s Thelonious Sphere Monk is a cosmic journey reinterpreting the
great Thelonious Monk Song Book in celebration of his 100th birthday.
MAST tackles sixteen Monk compositions, including the acclaimed
“Round Midnight,” “Blue Monk,” “Straight No Chaser,” “Epistrophy” and
“Well You Needn’t.” As well as more obscure titles like “Misterioso,”
“Pannonica,” “Friday The 13th” and “Bemsha Swing.” MAST, aka Tim
Conley, pays homage to the significant history of Thelonious Monk and
his esteemed compositions while bringing them into the future using
modern electronic bleeps, bloops, and beats. This is done in concert
with Low End Theory, Los Angeles beat culture Conley is a part of.
Harmonious with the mystical and metaphysical hand painted cover art
by Japanese artist Tokio Aoyama, each track created is a unique world
unto itself and the listener travels from one musical planet to the next on
the spaceship Monk.
The sixteen track LP features a diverse cast of extraordinary musicians
contributing instrumental virtuosity, which these Thelonious Monk
compositions demand. NYC tenor saxophonist Chris Speed (Tim
Berne, Jim Black) is haunting on “Well You Needn’t.” Chicago drummer
Makaya McCraven bashes and percolates on “Nutty” and “Let’s Cool
One.” As the album’s lone piano protagonist, virtuoso Brian Marsella
(John Zorn, Cyro Baptista) rises to the challenge and shines on “Ask Me
Now,” “‘Round Midnight” and “Straight No Chaser.” Philly born upright
bassist Jason Fraticelli (Taylor McFerrin, Mark Guiliana) is expansive
with endless improvisational ideas on “Blue Monk.” And don’t forget the
horns! Trombonist Jonah Levine, trumpeter Dan Rosenboom (Burning
Ghosts) and baritone/alto saxophonist Gavin Templeton (Nels Cline) put
power into Thelonious Monk’s prodigious melodies and flourish blistering
solos on “Evidence”, “Bemsha Swing,” “Epistrophy,” “Nutty,” and “Let’s
Cool One.” MAST is an LA transplant via Philadelphia and a guitarist by
trade. He approaches his six string leads on the album antithetically like
middle-eastern influenced “Bemsha Swing,” acoustically intimate “Friday
the 13th,” astral space fusion “Straight No Chaser,” and melancholic jazz
ballad “Pannonica.”
In totality, the intention of Thelonious Sphere Monk is equal parts
depth and fun. The jazz purist or Thelonious Monk scholar will find
each rendition to be immediately recognizable and performed at a high
level, yet blossomed and opened in ways not yet imagined or sonically
explored. To the unfamiliar jazz listener, the underlying layers of joyous
fun, wit, and playfulness, which Thelonious Monk himself embodied, will
hopefully inspire the listener to further explore the rich history of this
cherished American pianist and composer. Thelonious Sphere Monk.
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