On their earlier release, the above are joined by special
guest vocalist Suzanne Cloud in a program of
Monk's music, recorded live in concert Dec. 13, 1999.
"Manganese" / "Monk's Mood" / Medley: "Four In One," "Skippy," "Trinkle, Tinkle" / "Monk's Dream" / "Thelonious" / "Ask Me Now" / "Epistrophy" / "Ugly Beauty" / "Blue Monk"
"Crepuscule is the second album from the Monk-ophile quintet, Monkadelphia...the band devotes its exceptional talent to exploring the repertoire of Thelonious Monk. Crepuscule consists of eleven tracks, all Monk compositions arranged by Monkadelphia.
Though all are more than capable musicians, Tony Miceli and Tom Lawton consistently stand out as soloists on the album, playing off each other and the rhythm section. 'Bright Mississippi' is a great example of this when, following an extraordinary vibes solo, Farr echoes it flawlessly before developing his own solo. Jim Miller's percussion skills are also on display as he trades fours with the soloists before the restatement of the head.
'Green Chimneys' is an especially attractive tune, offering a lovely lyrical tenor sax solo over the roll-driven rhythm provided by Miller. During the vibes solo, Jones and Miller are playing so tight that they sound as one instrument, which is later joined by Tom Lawton's piano comping, and later his own blues-inflected solo.
'Bye-ya' ends the record with one last Monk tune to linger in the mind. The funky theme is introduced with a call by the piano and sax, the vibes and drums then provide the response. Lawton's playing is notable, as is the bass solo by Jones, both of which are bolstered by Miller's evocation of a range of rhythmic feels throughout.
Crepuscule is a fine collection of interesting Monk tunes by an exceptional group of musicians. Each player is featured in extensive solos, the recording and mix is crystal clear, and Monkadelphia certainly succeeds in showcasing why Monk the composer was so integral to the evolution of jazz."
- All About Jazz
"The greatest compliment is to take a master like Monk to new places, not stuff him as an exhibit. And this Philly-based quintet accomplishes that with stylish dissonance and bald humor."
- Philadelphia Inquirer Top Ten "Best in Jazz" 2010
"...(a) Monk tribute CD, this time from the aptly named group, Monkadelphia. Lately, I’ve become leery of tribute CDs which often feature musicians trotting out shopworn versions of their hero’s tunes and, just as often, turn out instead to be a slap in the face to their idol instead, due to creative lameness. But fortunately, this CD turned out to be a cut above...
To be sure, they play many of the great Monk classics but their approach happily shies away from slavish imitation. The group has put its own stamp on the material and while the treatments of Monk’s classics are not particularly radical, they are fresh enough to make for a lively, enjoyable session.
The musicians involved are excellent. The CD features a first-class rhythm section in Jones and Miller and all three of the primary soloists — Farr, Miceli and Lawton — have their shining moments: Lawton’s solo on 'Green Chimneys' made me smile—particularly his opening statement; Farr’s melodic outing on a lyrical bossa nova version of 'Reflections' and Miceli’s nice constructed solo on 'Let’s Call This' were but a few of the many appealing moments to be found therein. Recommended."
"This collection of all things Monk really catches fire.
Most groups sight-read the compositions and expel the solos automatically...but there's a deeper confluence at work here. Maybe it's the attention to the mysteries of Monkishness, like beginning the next song where the last soloist left off. Or the continual search for quirky humor and brain-changing dissonance.
This quintet takes group therapy to a higher level. Tenor saxophonist Chris Farr teases, cajoles, and confounds, while pianist Tom Lawton is just the most solid of cats, giving art or structure when needed. Bassist Micah Jones and drummer Jim Miller make up the rhythmic core, which bubbles better than a cappuccino machine.
One measure of success is the energy created, and these guys ambulate through the canon, from 'Bemsha Swing' to 'Bye-Ya,' with fresh eyes. This is no retro museum effort...No, the greatest compliment is to take Monk to new places, not stuff him for an exhibit. And this Philly-based quintet accomplishes that."
- Philadelphia Inquirer
"This Philly-based quintet tackles Monk using equal parts dedication and ingenuity. With vibraphonist Tony Miceli, tenor saxophonist Chris Farr and pianist Tom Lawton trading solos on the frontline, and the rhythm tandem of bassist Micah Jones and drummer Jim Miller holding down the fort, the band captures the proper spirit on 'Skippy,' 'Green Chimneys,' 'Played Twice,' 'Bright Mississippi,' 'Humph' and 'Eronel.'
Along the way, the quintet provides personalized touches - like (a) second-line groove...or the subtle samba feel beneath 'Bye-Ya.'
The album also includes wonderfully relaxed, highly expressive readings of 'Reflections' and 'Crepuscule with Nellie,' two of Monk's most affecting ballads."
"With Crepuscule, Monkadelphia releases the follow-up to its self-titled debut.
As Monk cover sessions tend to go, bands generally opt for the far ends of the spectrum, either replicating Monk's style with exacting technique or reconfiguring his music into something unaccustomed. Monkadelphia opts for a satisfying middle-ground, something Monk-a-philes can appreciate. The all-Monk repertory band plays - and seemingly lives - the music, creating a successful tribute.
While the band features pianist Tom Lawton, this is not a piano-led tribute to Monk. And while Lawton flavors the recording with Monk-like gestures, he doesn't parrot Monk's style. For example, on 'Reflections,' Lawton floats a samba feel under the gentle surf of saxophonist Chris Farr.
The quintet's aim is to spread the leadership and soloing amongst the players. On 'Bright Mississippi,' vibraphonist Tony Micelli trades off some fleet mallet work with Farr and bassist Micah Jones, who races with impressive agility through his solo. Again, on 'Green Chimneys,' the band passes around the melody, beginning with Jones. Where a 'Fake Book' band might have covered the heads and changes, the five musicians pass the ball with Harlem Globetrotter ease, allowing them to score at will.
Highlights are obscure Monk tracks like 'Skippy' and 'Humph' - two tunes that are masterfully hard in their simplicity. The quintet navigates them as if they were child's play. Drummer Jim Miller plays the changes at breakneck speed, prodding each player to soar. Listening to this band, it's possible to imagine Monk thinking, 'Ain't that a bitch!' Indeed."
- All About Jazz.com
"(W)hat sets (Monkadelphia) apart is the subtle re-harmonization of Monk's oeuvre by the ensemble from Philly. This has everything to do with the vibraphone of the band's chief progenitor, Tony Miceli...Several vibes players may have attempted to re-locate the music of Monk to the resonant landscape of that instrument. But none is as memorable as Miceli's. Naturally, the vibraphonist's interpretations focus on the rhythmic aspect of Monk's music, but the bright tubular bells of the vibes makes it a truly memorable experience. For one, it is possible to get melodic, where most drums would not cut it. Miceli is a sublime melodist and his harmonic palette is vast and—while not as steeped in the blues as (Milt) Jackson—he still pays deep respect to that idiom.
The poetics of 'Bemsha Swing' are spectacularly re-constructed with a heavy underpinning of percussion at the opening and throughout the rest of the short piece. Much of the album is up-tempo, compared to many of Monk's own versions, but there is truth and beauty in merely understanding the changes in Monk's music and in playing it with singular individualism. Miceli does this with aplomb. The rustic drums of Jim Miller and the melodic bass of Micah Jones mirrors those players who once graced Monk's quartets and the big fat tenor saxophone of Chris Farr does more than mirror the playing of the great saxophonist Charlie Rouse especially on the hauntingly beautiful 'Crepuscule With Nellie.'
All of this is proof of the fact that the music of Thelonious Monk is alive and well and ready for new generations of musicians and fans alike."
- All About Jazz.com
"...(P)ianist Tom Lawton is more than casually familiar with Monk’s style, able to quote it or reflect it to advantage without aping it. But it isn’t the pianist alone who make(s) these superior and constantly intriguing salutes to Monk’s music. It is the band, how they realize that Monk’s music comprises a whole aesthetic, that it is more than just melody and/or harmony, that it implies or suggests approach and (emotional/psychological) attitude - that everything is important and must be considered (if not necessarily followed), including tempo and rhythm. The Philadelphia quintet Monkadelphia comes by its familiarity with Monk’s ideas through practice; it’s been together over a decade.
The five play the repertoire like a working band, as if they’ve lived with the music until it fits them like a second skin. There are...many little epiphanies revealing how much they’ve internalized the music’s nuances. And the rhythm section is as crisp and buoyant as any led by Monk."
- All About Jazz - New York
"This Philly-based quintet have dedicated themselves to the music of Thelonious Monk...their live album...swings like mad and pays exacting homage. Vibraphonist Tony Micelli, pianist Tom Lawton, saxophonist Chris Farr, bassist Micah Jones and drummer Jim Miller give a lesson in Monk, and it glows."
- Philadelphia Weekly
"The program is weighted toward unobvious Monk tunes, which provides further evidence of the intelligence of Monkadelphia's approach.
It's great to hear vibes on these tunes: When Tony Miceli's notes hang in the air to create a flavor of Monkish dissonance, the effect is delicious. Pianist Tom Lawton manages to evoke the master's voice without being imitative - no mean feat - and tenorman Chris Farr is a good soloist who listens well to what is going on around him.
Singer Suzanne Cloud...gives a good account of herself on the three vocal cuts...well worth hearing."
"They do good things with his work. The entire band is forceful. Tony Micelli's vibes add a nice dreamy texture to the sound and Chris Farr plays lovely, straightforward tenor on 'Monk's Dream' and 'We See.' There are also vocals from Suzanne Cloud...a stellar exploration of the Monk canon." - Cadence
"...the players have created their own approach to Thelonious' challenging music...the style that distinguishes this CD involves colors and texture. Unrestrained by conventional, and ironically standardized, approaches to Monk's tunes, the musicians of 'MONKadelphia,' while drawing upon the same influence, take his music in personalized directions. Which is as it should be." - Jazz News
"MONKadelphia celebrate(s) the straight-ahead Monk, emphasizing his swingability...a pleasant live set that explores some common and uncommon Monk tunes in a comfortable, hard-bop vein.
Miceli's vibes help soften Monk's rough edges while conveying significant energy. Lawton...adds kaleidoscopic harmonic tweaks that showcase his unique sensibility...Tenor saxophonist Chris Farr provides solo sizzle...Suzanne Cloud also sets down three tasty vocals with lyrics by Jon Hendricks and Abbey Lincoln."
- Philadelphia Inquirer
"This Philadelphia quintet swings hard in its self-titled debut...spontaneous without degenerating into a jam session.
The band's deliberate reading of 'Monk's Mood' is dark and edgy. It recalls the mid-'60s edition of the Miles Davis Quintet that included Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock.
The best feature of 'MONKadelphia' is its variety. Listeners don't have to be Monk fans to enjoy the CD. The sequence of the songs keeps things moving - and the musicians turn in consistently strong performances."
- The Press of Atlantic City
"This live concert collective project of Philly Monkophiles presents an imaginative set of the great Thelonious' disjunct masterpieces... The group has chosen wisely - 'Monk's Mood,' 'Epistrophy,' 'Blue Monk.' 'Ask Me Now' and a wonderful medley of 'Four In One/Skippy/Trinkle Tinkle.' It's obvious that the group loves this music... There's also vocal versions of 'Monk's Dream,' 'Ask me Now' (Jon Hendrick's lyrics) and 'Blue Monk' (the Abbey Lincoln lyrics). Cloud's versions are straight-no chaser, pleasing takes on the seldom heard cuts." - JazzReview