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Label: Clean Feed
Catalog ID: CFG 001CD
Squidco Product Code: 6976
Packaging: Cardstock foldover
Elliott Sharp-acoustic guitar
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1. Bemsha Swing
3. Round Midnight
5. Well You Needn't
All Compositions by Thelonious Sphere Monk
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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"For many, it's quite a surprise to listen to Elliott Sharp performing Thelonious Monk's tunes. Knowing his fondness for extreme situations in the fields of noise music, experimental rock and hardcore improvisation, his use of a selection of compositions considered "standards" of the be bop school, written by one of the top figures in the history of jazz, can seem a bit strange. To understand it, we have to go deeper in the musical universe of this guitarist who also plays other instruments - tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, computer electronics, etc. - and invented some string ones (the slab and the pantar, for instance). Sharp's music can be extreme, expressionistic, "savage" (there's something of the B'ambuti pygmies even in his pieces for classical string quartet) and with lots of feedback and distortion, but that's only some of its characteristics. There's other sides, like his love for mathematics, using the Fibonacci series and the golden numbers in a complex and demanding compositional work having everything to do with Xenakis', Ligeti's and Stockhausen's concepts. Sure he likes to pump up the volume of his amplifier, but there's structures in what he does, preventing it to be just aleatoric, and when you speak about structures you must point a master in structuring improvisation - Monk, precisely.
Elliott Sharp himself says it all in the liner notes of "Sharp? Monk? Sharp! Monk!": "My ears and heart tended towards sonic excess, but Monk was always there to clarify with his tart harmonies and percussive attack, his catchy but twisted melodies, and his incredibly rhythmic motion, always dry and economical." This is not a paradox - even radical music needs to have rules of some kind, and Thelonious Monk, in its weird simplicity and openness, was a genious in using patterns and process figures. Sharp arranged very known scores like "Bemsha Swing", "Round Midnight" and "Misterioso" for acoustic guitar, the Dell Arte Grande Bouche he prefers when playing blues, and the "fingerpicked bop" (his words) of this disc isn't very far from the mother of the jazz idiom. His interpretations of the master's ideas are unusual and maybe sometimes bizarre, but he connects him even more with the continuum of the African-American tradition. The notion that avant-garde playing is a refusal of the past is no longer true, if it ever was. A great record to cherish and keep."-Clean Feed
• Show Bio for Elliott Sharp
"Elliott Sharp is an American multi-instrumentalist, composer, and performer.
A central figure in the avant-garde and experimental music scene in New York City for over 30 years, Elliott Sharp has released over eighty-five recordings ranging from orchestral music to blues, jazz, noise, no wave rock, and techno music. He leads the projects Carbon and Orchestra Carbon, Tectonics, and Terraplane and has pioneered ways of applying fractal geometry, chaos theory, and genetic metaphors to musical composition and interaction.
His collaborators have included Radio-Sinfonie Frankfurt; pop singer Debbie Harry; Ensemble Modern; Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Kronos String Quartet; Ensemble Resonanz; cello innovator Frances Marie Uitti; blues legends Hubert Sumlin and Pops Staples; pipa virtuoso Min-Xiao Feng; jazz greats Jack deJohnette, Oliver Lake, and Sonny Sharrock; multimedia artists Christian Marclay and Pierre Huyghe; and Bachir Attar, leader of the Master Musicians Of Jajouka.
Sharp is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, and a 2014 Fellow at Parson's Center for Transformative Media. He received the 2015 Berlin Prize in Musical Composition from the American Academy in Berlin. He has composed scores for feature films and documentaries; created sound-design for interstitials on The Sundance Channel, MTV and Bravo networks; and has presented numerous sound installations in art galleries and museums. He is the subject of a new documentary "Doing The Don't" by filmmaker Bert Shapiro."-Elliott Sharp-Elliott Sharp website (http://www.elliottsharp.com/bio.html)
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Sharp? Monk? Elliott Sharp Plays the Music of Thelonious Monk