Chris Cheek, tenor saxophone; Pietro Tonolo, tenor & soprano saxophone; Ben Monder & Steve Cardenas, guitars; Anders Christensen, electric bass; Paul Motian, drums.
Europe is a wonderful new sextet session by the veteran percussionist Paul Motian, featuring outstanding performances of originals and lesser-known works by Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols, and others.
Motian is among the great, individual voices on his chosen instrument, with an advanced polyrhythmic concept that inspires and supports but does not overwhelm. There are some marvelous moments here: the controlled rhythmic thrust evident in Monk's "Gallops Gallop" assures high-level invention, and arguably there is no better example of two guitarists sharing an ensemble so convincingly. And in his soprano saxophone solo, Tonolo brilliantly captures the chromatic essence of the piece, which is among Monk's most challenging.
More than four decades after its genesis, Nichols' intricate piece, "2300 Skidoo", still communicates powerfully, a fitting conclusion to an outstanding session.
by James D. Armstrong, Jr.
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