Reinventing the music of Thelonious Monk is no easy task, but organist Greg Lewis does precisely that on "Organ Monk." Backed solely by drummer, Bean, and guitarist, Ron Jackson, Lewis goes through fifteen of Monk's timeless classics, adapting them to the feel of an organ trio. Bar LunÁtico wholeheartedly agrees with this rave review from Ben Ratliff in the New York Times:
"Thelonious Monk's sense of harmony was so fresh and savory that it would be nice to have individual moments of it frozen, expanded and prolonged, just to let the sounds get deeper in the ear, to let those mixed colors intensify and explode. One could do it digitally, feeding Monk's music through the right tools, but an organ player can do it in real time by keeping the keys pressed down. The New York-area organist Greg Lewis has made a recent project out of transferring Thelonious Monk's repertory to the Hammond C3 organ. He plays in a quartet with tenor saxophone, guitar and drums. Two years ago he released "Organ Monk" on his own label, with Cindy Blackman on drums. Part 2 of the idea, called "Organ Monk: Uwo in the Black," with Nasheet Waits on drums instead, has just come out. It's a feast. This has been done before. Mr. Lewis likes Larry Young, the organist who pushed against the standard clichés of jazz organ playing in the 1960s and '70s, and the spirit of both these albums might have come out of a version of "Monk's Dream" from Young's 1965 album "Unity." But it hasn't been done a lot, and Mr. Lewis floods the music with swing and volume-pedal ministrations. The best are the Monk ballads "Ugly Beauty" and "Crepuscule With Nellie": slow and distorted, filthy and graceful."
-- Ben Ratliff - New York Times