AMN Reviews: Andrea Biondi, Marco Colonna, Mario Cianca – Monk—the Gravity of a Language [New Ethic Society]

The idiosyncratic musical language of Thelonious Monk continues to be a source of inspiration for composers and improvisers. This live recording of the trio of Andrea Biondi (vibes and electronics), Marco Colonna (piccolo and alto clarinets), and Mario Cianca (double bass) is meant as a homage to Monk and his musical idiolect, even if the music itself is very much the trio’s own.

Colonna, who is credited as composer, starts the forty-two minute-long piece with an alto clarinet solo that captures something of the staggered phrasing of a Monkish melody. Throughout the performance, Colonna’s melodic interludes serve to establish and link discrete sections, each of which has its own distinct sound and mood. Cianca’s bass and Biondi’s vibes craft a group sound consisting of a free-flowing polyphony that pushes the music forward along parallel, complementary lines. What is most like Monk’s own musical language is the trio’s judicious use of open space, which recalls the often sparse textures of Monk’s solo lines and accompaniments. Such sensitivity comes as no surprise, since each musician shows himself to be a superb improviser with a fine ear and sense of development.

Monk does make a brief appearance about three-quarters of the way through the piece, thanks to some sampled recordings.

Daniel Barbiero