"Most people would never realize that I am closer to Thelonious Monk than to any other artist," says Smith. "What connects us is a vision of composition and its forms, music psychology, and our articulation of the ensemble as a trashing field for new information."
From the time he listened to the early masters of modern jazz as a teenager, Smith felt that "It was Monk, his ideas of a band and composition, that were the closest to what I dreamed of being as an artist. His history of composition and his knowledge of how to use sound were a prime motivator, really, for me wanting to be a composer. I would go back and forth between him and Duke Ellington on this, but Monk had the upper hand in the end."
Smith´s fascination with Monk´s solo recordings began more than five decades ago, when he purchased the recording Thelonious Monk Alone In San Francisco. "The essence of Monk is, I believe, in his solo performances"says Smith. "All those pieces, the solo music, follow the primary formula of the compositions, but they all stray, they all lead to expansions and further explorations - allowing the compositions to grow and become renewed each time he plays them. The way in which I play Monk´s melodies on this recording, they are all personal: they are not based on chord progressions, they evolve essentially by proportion - long notes, short notes. Each of them is played, they move, in a way in which I can celebrate his melody, but seen through my expression of it."
In addition to four classic Monk compositions, "Ruby, My Dear," "Reflections," "Crepuscule With Nellie" and "'Round Midnight," the album includes four new compositions by Smith inspired by Monk and his personal history - whether real, imagined or dreamed. Together, the pieces form a unique collection wherein the two composers seem to communicate with each other through Smith´s solo performances.
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