Redwood Jazz Alliance

Plays Monk: September 27, 2007 (two shows, 7 & 9 p.m.) | Morris Graves Museum of Art

To kick off our season, we're happy both to inaugurate a new partnership (with the Humboldt Arts Council) and to welcome back Bay Area drummer Scott Amendola--a once-frequent visitor--to Humboldt County.

Scott's exciting new project is "Plays Monk," a piano-less trio dedicated to the music of a modern piano master. It's a collective rounded out by clarinetist Ben Goldberg (Tin Hat Trio, New Klezmer Trio) and bassist Devin Hoff (Nels Cline Singers, Good For Cows).

"Monk is so deep," says Amendola, whose own body of work (with, among others, Nels Cline, Jenny Scheinman, John Zorn, and Bill Frisell) plunges way below the waterline. "I think the three of us feel like we could explore his music for the rest of our lives and come up with interesting things to play."

But this is no tribute band, no staid nod toward a jazz giant. It's a work in progress, an exploration, a wondering, ever tuned to what the music may reveal and teach. "Monk's music sometimes seems simple. There are simple melodies," Amendola says. "But there is so much there, so much to grab on to in the depth of the harmony. I hear new things in his music every time we play."

Goldberg, whose elegiac remembrance of mentor Steve Lacy, The Door, The Hat, The Chair, The Fact, was one of the RJA's favorite recordings of 2006, leads the way when Plays Monk plays Monk, and from the jump that means something new, as tunes we associate so strongly with piano approach us now without a chording instrument, reimagined in a different voice. "We're centered around Ben's playing and concept," Amendola says. "And we never know how he's going to approach any melody at the moment. It's fantastic."

But if improvisation is Plays Monk's yin, reverence for the material, fidelity to its rhythms and melodic ideas, is its yang. "We all feel incredibly connected to the music," Amendola says, and the result is a working band that shares the stage, that performs the very idea of ensemble through Monk's tunes. Always reaching, always swinging, Plays Monk is a celebration, not only of the man and his music, but of the music, the revelry, and the camaraderie it inspires right here and now.

More Information on Plays Monk, including streaming and downloadable videos and mp3s:

Tickets ($15 General Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) are available here at our website, or (General Admission only) at The Metro and The Works.

Plays Monk will also present a FREE public master class entitled "How to Play Monk (and Other Music)" Friday, September 28 at 10:00 a.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus.


This concert is presented in partnership with the Humboldt Arts Council.

Please join us in thanking the following businesses, whose major sponsorship helps us keep ticket prices low (and master classes free!):

Additional generous support comes from The Arcata Eye, Big Pete's Pizzeria, KHSU/KHSR-FM, KIEM-TV News Channel 3, Jambalaya, Lady Anne Victorian Inn, and Diane Sharples CPA.

If you or your business would like to consider sponsoring a Redwood Jazz Alliance event and/or advertising in our concert programs, please e-mail us or visit our Underwriting & Donations page.

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