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Album Review

Pianists Joe Bonner and Thelonious Monk were each born in Rocky Mount, NC, a not-so-interesting fact except that Bonner's thoughtful, decisive style has, perhaps coincidentally, been thought to resemble that of his justly more famous and influential townsman. Recorded in 1991 but not released until 2000, this album is an opportunity to hear Bonner's interpretations of Monk at length. It is a bold project, but not a new concept, and however accomplished Bonner is, he curiously reflects (at least directly) few of Monk's influences. Bonner is a more formal performer than Monk, less radical, to be sure, and more orchestral in approach. As a result, he is also less interesting. Bonner performs Monk's compositions almost reverentially, smoothing the edges, diminishing the quirkiness, and consequentially lessening their import. If Monk epitomized eccentricity, then Bonner stands for focused, organized convention, skilled and accurate. The melodies remain intact, the solos are true to the chords, but the offbeat personality is squeezed out, replaced by something a tad more conventional. Nonetheless, Bonner is a powerful, confident performer who attacks every piece with a singular approach. He is his own man, certainly no clone, but something of the original fiber is lost in his performances. Technically proficient, sometimes gloriously so, the underrated and underappreciated Bonner pumps hard, embossing his own exuberant, though somewhat polished, personality on virtually every tune. It is not precisely Monk, but who says it has to be?


Born: 20 April 1948 in Rocky Mount, NC

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A fine pianist who was originally heavily influenced by McCoy Tyner, Joe Bonner is an excellent interpreter of modal-based music and advanced hard bop. He studied music at Virginia State College and early on played with Roy Haynes (1970-1971), Freddie Hubbard (1971-1972), Pharoah Sanders (1972-1974), and Billy Harper (late '70s). Bonner, who recorded as a leader for Muse, Theresa,...
Full bio
Monkisms, Joe Bonner
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  • 9,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 09 May 2000

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