Miho Hazama & Metropole Orkest Big Band

The Monk: Live At Bimhuis
(Sunnyside)

Thelonious Monk effortlessly referenced disparate developments in jazz history, moving from bop back to stride during any given session. And it’s the capacious nature of his practice that conductor Miho Hazama captures in her seven arrangements of Monk tunes for the Metropole Orkest Big Band.

One of the date’s most endearing musical moments, though, comes during a sprightly spotlight: Most of the band drops out, leaving just the rhythm section and a lone trumpeter to linger in the chords behind “Ruby, My Dear.” Of course, Hazama’s conducting seamlessly brings the entire band back to lovingly ply the well-worn work in the end. “’Round Midnight” rarely has sounded as forlorn as it does a few tracks on, and “Epistrophy,” as wonky as ever, swings with blustery humanism. This is a work of fellowship and camaraderie, and it’s readily apparent.

The source material, of course, was a good place to start, but Hazama’s previous efforts—Journey To Journey (2013) and Time River (2015)—bolster a blossoming reputation. Even if this had arrived without her past work for context, The Monk: Live At Bimhaus comes off as a good-natured reflection of both its namesake’s personality and Hazama’s as she charts an astute course through the jazz landscape.


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January 2020
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