12 Elegy for TheloniousElegy for Thelonious
Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble
Sunnyside Records SSC 1716 (sunnysiderecords.bandcamp.com/album/elegy-for-thelonious)

Chick Corea’s Trio Music (ECM, 1981) and Trio Music, Live in Europe (ECM, 1986) represent the high watermarks of small-ensemble homages to Thelonious Monk. Similarly, nothing by a large group on either side of the Atlantic comes close to matching the intrigue, riveting power and consequence of two recordings by the Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble. The first of these was a 2017 recording Monk Dreams, Hallucinations and Nightmares (Red Piano Records, 2017), and this brilliant Elegy for Thelonious

Monk broke free of his much-loved quartet format only twice. The first time was when he was persuaded by Hall Overton, which resulted in The Thelonious Monk Orchestra Live at the Town Hall (Columbia, 1959), and Big Band and Quartet (Columbia, 1963), featuring Oliver Nelson’s arrangements. 

Frank Carlberg’s Monk is cut from the same iconic musical tapestry, but his vision of Monk’s singular jagged melodies, off-kilter harmonies and rhythmic rhetoric is metaphysical, spectral. The music upends even Monk-conventions about what is logical and permissible in music. Sure, Carlberg’s music reflects Monk, but the vision is much darker than Monk’s crepuscular one. 

Listening to this recording is like viewing Monk as a shimmering hologram evocative of Supreme Leader Snoke’s appearances in Star Wars: The Force Awakens looming over Kylo Ren and General Hux.  

Back in the real world, the spikey lines of melody, harmony and rhythm of Monk’s often-impenetrable music unite in these glorious elliptical arcs of Carlberg’s visionary re-imaginations of Monk’s music.

Pin It

Back to top