BWW Review: 4 BY MONK BY 4 at the TD Toronto Jazz Festival
Four masters paying tribute to "the architect". The 2017 TD Toronto Jazz Festival closed with a concert featuring pianists Kenny Barron, Cyrus Chestnut, Benny Green and Gerald Clayton. 4 BY MONK BY 4 honoured the renown American jazz pianist and composer, Thelonious Monk.
Opening with a rendition of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", Cyrus Chestnut sucked us into Monk's world. Layered over a hopping bass line, Chestnut moved in and out of the flow of the piece. Next up was Benny Green, joining Chestnut in a duet of Monk's "In Walked Bud". The two shared moments of explosive creativity in an improvisation duel. One smiling while the other got into the groove - it was wonderful to watch.
Green introduced the youngest pianist in the group, Gerald Clayton. The chemistry between the two of them was magnetic. Finally, the last artist to grace the stage was the incomparable Kenny Barron. As Clayton's mentor, the two of them played naturally together in terms of pacing, trading off melodic lines and forming strategic harmonies. Clayton even joked about Barron's (effective) mentoring style. Barron would say, "You know this tune? Well, learn it!"
The fact that the four of them were raised in three generations of jazz is reflected in their very unique, independent styles. From Clayton's modern take on jazz, which produces an almost dream-like sound - to Barron's classic walking bass line in the left, creating dissonant, intriguing chords with the right hand. The concert was an exhilarating tribute to one of the most recorded jazz artists of all time.
The 2017 TD Toronto Jazz Festival ran from June 23 - July 2, 2017.
Keep an out for 2018 Festival information at www.torontojazz.com
Photo Credit: Randall Cook