It is now 100 years since the birth of Thelonious Monk, and Gregory Lewis continues his homage on his latest album, here revisiting eight Monk compositions, ranging from the rarely heard to those that are loved. He has also reset his band, so although long-time drummer Jeremy Beans Clemons is still here, we now have a trio with the other musician being guitarist Marc Ribot. Marc has been in other organ bands, having worked with the legendary Brother Jack McDuff for example, and the two leads know when to accompany each other, when to take flight, and when to stand and have a battle.
There is a warmth and strength to the sound of the B3, and although various musicians have taken Hammond Organs into the rock arena, they tended to use the C3 (Jon Lord, Keith Emerson) although Ken Hensley was also a B3 player. Lewis is a consummate musician, knows Monk’s music inside out, treats it with care and compassion, and brings in others who feel exactly the same way, so what is there on this album that isn’t to love? It drives, it bops, it is full of passion, and at its very heart is that rich warm sound that only the B3 provides and this time it is taken to new level with the introduction of a very rock-sounding and influential jazz guitarist. I have been fortunate enough to hear three of Gregory’s albums so far, and this is easily the most powerful to date, and consequently the one to which I will most often return.