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The T.S. Monk front-line (from right): 
Willie Williams, Winston Byrd, Bobby Porcelli

Monk Jr. at the Bird of Paradise


The much-acclaimed bandleader and drummer T.S. Monk brought his sextet to the Bird of Paradise for two days in November. I was fortunate to be able to attend the late show on the seventeenth.

Monk was a solid, if unspectacular, drummer and a very able leader. His patter between tunes set a relaxed and hip tone to the night's proceedings. His band included several accomplished players, but I was most impressed with tenorist Willie Williams. Williams had his own approach to hard bop tenor, combining a driving rhythm with a tender tone. Veteran Bobby Porcelli's facile alto sax was more anonymous in the stylistic vein of Sonny Stitt. Trumpeter Winston Byrd was only 25 years old and also solidly in the bebop groove. His trumpet was even bent, just like you know who!

Some of the most effective tunes of the night were by Monk Sr.: "Think of One","Evidence" and "Round Midnight." The latter was taken at an unusually fast medium tempo. But do not get the idea that this is a Thelonius Monk "ghost-band." They play great arrangements by Don Sickler and everyone gets a chance to solo. Catch them when they come to town next time! 

 photograph by Lars Björn