Monk's Dream | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Monk's Dream


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Usually when a band comes together to honor the work of one composer, it places a premium on fidelity: the instrumentation, and even the style of the soloists, consciously evoke the dedicatee's original recordings, and you end up with some variation on a ghost band. But Monk's music long ago transcended this limitation; his compositions have proved both durable and plastic, lending themselves to unexpected interpretations by a wide range of musicians (from the Italian pianist Giorgio Gaslini, who created minimalist deconstructions of Monk tunes, to guitarist Peter Frampton--honest). The latest take comes courtesy of Monk's Dream, a small band with a big sound: it pairs two of the city's best young keyboardists, Steve Million and Mike Kocour--who alternate on piano and organ--with the veteran drummer Robert Shy. It's a setting both extravagant, thanks to the organ, and stripped-down: a jazz version of a garage band, playing songs that, with their blunt imagery, internal rhymes, and emphasis on sound as well as intellectual construct, are really musical poems (or sometimes limericks). Now, Monk never played organ, and he never played within a two-keyboard format, so historical accuracy is clearly not the goal. Instead, Monk's Dream offers a compact and lively recasting of this extraordinary body of music. Saturday, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 878-5552.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bruce Powell.

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