The Microscopic Septet
Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk

Since being released by Cuneiform Records on October 5, 2010, this Monk tribute album has continued to received a steady stream of glowing press, and ever-growing numbers of new fans.

What the Press has said about Friday the Thirteenth: The Micros Play Monk (Cuneiform 2010)

“Just about the time you ask yourself, “What else can be done with a Monk tune?” The Microscopic Septet comes in to blow you away. Fueled by inventive arrangements by soprano saxophonist Phillip Johnston and pianist Joel Forrester (with one by Bob Montalto), the Micros twist and turn through the Thelonious Monk songbook with a spirit of ambitious grace, super-sized energy and flat-out fun. The disc kicks off with a take on “Brilliant Corners” that shows what the septet is all about. There’s plenty of space for dialogue and interplay between the sax section … They weave in and out of the melody, each taking a solo here and adding a flourish there. They lock in for precision section work. Then comes a hairpin turn of tempo to give the rhythm section a go. …the band raised more than $10,000 on to make the record. … Septet co-leaders Johnston and Forrester have been loving and playing Monk together since the 1970s, and their joy infuses every second of this disc.”
– Frank Alkyer, “Editors’ Picks”, Downbeat, December 2010

“… It is splendid fun. … Friday the 13th proves, again, that the music of Thelonious Monk is universal, timeless, and open to endless interpretation. Who knew that the bebop pianist’s work could be recast as a military march… Latin-tinged swing… or a punk-rock jam…? No, these 12 cuts aren’t by-the-numbers retreads; the Micros’ leaders…bring their own arrangements to bear. Some toe the line fairly close to Monk’s intentions; others skew toward iconoclasm. In the case of “Teo,” a funk-rock rhythm evolves into a hard-rock beat, while Dave Sewelson goes all nutty on the baritone sax with squawking that escalates into a maelstrom.
… The interaction among the four horns drives much of the action, whether on the straight-up bop of “Evidence” or the balladry of “Pannonica.” But the band’s identity also hinges on the distinct personalities of the musicians: Check out alto saxophonist Don Davis’ fancy glissando and note-bending on “We See,” or Forrester’s clever, wish-it-wouldn’t-end solo in the midst of “Worry Later.”
And if you think that all the fun the Micros are having means they don’t take the music seriously, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, starting with the opening track, a perfect run-through of “Brilliant Corners,” a song so difficult to perform that Monk himself failed. He had to splice together pieces of various takes after his band tried 25 times to play it right and finally gave up.“
– Steve Greenlee, JazzTimes, March 2011,

Point of Departure:
“…For this project, the reformed septet's principal composers, pianist Joel Forrester and soprano saxophonist Phillip Johnston, delved into the music of Thelonious Monk, a touchstone for their respective sensibilities and their shared history. ... Forrester first met Johnston in 1974 after hearing him play Monk's "Well, You Needn't"…in New York City. The rest, as they say, is history…
Splitting arranging duties, Forrester and Johnston's swinging approach to Monk's quirky angularity and offbeat phrasing is both respectful and irreverent; their interpretations are far looser than the average Monk cover, yet closer in spirit to the originals even when liberties are taken with the source material. Invoking the bop idiom's penchant for quotation, Johnston, Forrester and the rest of the septet pilfer from Monk's own compositions rather than scouring the Great American Songbook for harmonic interpolations – refracting the legendary pianist's oeuvre upon itself, like a hall of mirrors.
Subtle differences can be heard between Forrester and Johnston's arrangements… Johnston tends towards playful re-imaginings, recasting Monk's work with genre inflections… Johnston's surreal, connect-the-dots interpretation of "Friday The 13th" honors Steve Lacy's relationship to Monk, book-ending a scintillating piano trio interlude with Dali-esque chorales of cascading counterpoint from the horns. …
Forrester's cerebral approach towards Monk's legacy is filled with subtle quotations and musical asides. His gorgeous take on the lovely "Pannonica" balances mellifluous piano filigrees with an impassioned saxophone coda …
There have been plenty of Monk tributes throughout the years, some worthwhile, many forgettable, but few with the intrinsic connection to the material that The Micros Play Monk exudes. Though widely revered for his harmonic and rhythmic advancements, Monk was as much an advocate of the tradition as he was an innovator. The Microscopic Septet has championed a similar inside/outside attitude for almost three decades, long may they persevere.”
- Troy Collins, Point of Departure, #31

All About Jazz:
“… The Microscopic Sextet's 30-year run has…been revitalized via its affiliation with Cuneiform Records. With its fourth release for the label, Thelonious Monk's influence and eternal spirit yields a wittily entertaining facelift via the septet's customary off-center expansions on bop and swing, to complement the intermittent jiggle to the avant-garde. Its musicians are true to form with their holistic stance on Monk's discography, and, thankfully, they coat the material with a fresh spin, which is the antidote to the present, and seemingly well-worn, literal renditions of the master's songbook.
… the music is a study in contrasts and textural arrays. Add the sometimes hyper-mode soloing and tenderly coined choruses, and the septet hearkens to a different drummer on “Teo,” due to drummer Richard Dworkin's wily, surf rock tom patterns and the horn section's revved-up phrasings and improvised breakdown. …
Devoid of clichés and the old wine-new bottle equation, The Microscopic Septet, as anticipated, delivers the goods with its signature mode of adventure and quirkiness. It's a colloquy that professes a sense of newness under the portent that the musicians have aligned their creative juices with Monk's spirit--and nod of approval from above.”
– Glenn Astarita, All About Jazz, January 4, 2011,

Audiophile Audtion:
What a perfect match!: the quirky off-center music of Thelonius Monk together with the quirky off-center music of The Microscopic Septet. …
…here are a dozen Monk tunes in the inimitable and unique style of the Microscopics with their sax quartet accompanied by a rhythm section.  Monk and the Micros have a lot in common and it all comes out in this delightful gig. The patented odd angles and bright colors are beautifully delivered by the Septet.  They get into a delicious Monk groove that’s somehow better than that recorded by other more famous ensembles over the years.  … There’s a wonderful feel-good yet hip vibe about everything they do. The humorous side of Monk comes thru clearly. This is certainly not a dry re-creation of Monk.
 - John Henry, Audiophile Audtion, November 21, 2010,

The Village Voice:
“Monk's music deserves to be interpreted by artists who know what a funny bone feels like, and this longstanding outfit has never been at a loss for a grin or three. So no wonder their new Friday the 13th is such a pip of a tribute disc. Whether turning "Gallop's Gallop" into parade music or blowing some Caribbean smoke through "Bye-Ya," they illustrate swing's whimsical side. Call it repertory as romper room, and yes, it takes lots of sobering skills to get such exclamation off the ground.”
– Jim Macnie The Village Voice, Nov 24 2010 ,

“Adding three extra saxophones to Monk’s basic sax-piano-bass-drums arrangements transforms them into a kaleidoscope of color. Phillip Johnston’s soprano refracts Steve Lacy, while Mike Hashim’s tenor can’t help but swing. A MINUS”
– Tom Hull, “Jazz Consumer Guide: Pure Joy and Hard Work”, The Village Voice, May 11 2011,

LA Weekly:
“The key to really hearing and feeling the late, great Thelonious Monk is getting inside the man's message that his music must be very serious and very crazy all at the same time. Everyone knows about Monk's tendency toward wild harmonic and rhythmic leaps within his pieces; in fact, they bopped so fugging powerfully because you could hear him chewing his way out of the restraints and conventions of the crusty-musty jazz tradition, which he in fact revered. Understanding that "something old + something new" equation is what New York's venerable Microscopic Septet have got down like muscle memory, and now…their new Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk on the ace Cuneiform label…features this insanely inventive band in wickedly modern interps of Monk's farsightedly skewed visions. …”
-John Payne, LA Weekly, November 21. 2010

“…Fun, freewheeling stuff, with plenty of Monk-isms. Should appeal to fans of modern bop and avant-jazz alike.”
KZSU - Stanford Radio 90.1 FM, 12/31/10,

Music and More:
“… Melody is the key to the group's interpretation of the Monk repertoire, they arrange the songs beautifully and take great joy in playing them. Bravely, they open with what is considered to be Monk's most difficult composition, "Brilliant Corners," with the piano and horns swinging the melody as the saxophones trade ideas and flutter. … Forrester's piano ushers in a gentle swing feel for "We See" …  A joyous alto saxophone solo and some thick deep bass make this one of the highlights of the session. … This album works quite well, the arrangements that the band has developed keep the uniqueness of Monk's vision while allowing for ample opportunities for the soloists to interpret the music with fine solos and ensemble passages.”
- Tim Niland, Music and More, October 12, 2010,

Will Layman/Popmatters:
“Any fan of The Microscopic Septet can tell you that the band is a Monk specialist.  The slightly off-center feel of The Micros over the years has always lent itself to interpreting jazz's most off-center—and brilliant—composer.
The surprise is that they have never devoted an album of arrangement to the master . . . until now. …
And, boy is it fun!  The Micros load on the Latin grooves and a martial beat, sleek swing and avant-garde freak-outs.  They don't stray all that far from Monk's tunes or his ultimate intentions, but they bring a fresh sense of quirk to these (mostly) familiar jazz standards.  …
You might feel that you don't need another Monk tribute disc, but this is a theme record that overcomes any sense of familiarity.  These guys have long been some of the few pranksters in jazz, and it's great to have them playing on the monkey bars of such a great composer.”
– Will Layman, Big Butter and Egg Man,  February 24, 2011

“… The charm of The Micros has always been their joyous, unself-conscious collage of different jazz styles. They are a kind of sleek swing band one moment, a Latin jazz group the next, a group of ‘60s avant-eek-onkers just a moment later. And it’s all played with the kind of zippity zest that keeps things entertaining. That is the just the treatment that Dear Ol’ Thelonious gets here. …
All this creativity in approaching a quirky composer! …
…it’s fair to say that the Microscopic Septet, at its core, sits atop a traditional piano trio sound. … On a tune like “Brilliant Corners”, the basic rhythm groove is tidy and light, precise but not explosive. … Even on a tune like “Gallop’s Gallop”, where the trio enters with a military beat, they play with a neatness that never evolves into the fiery.
But on this same tune, we hear the other distinct element of The Micros. The reed section…plays with a controlled freedom. Johnston’s soprano solo has a casual looseness that is just the opposite from the style of the rhythm section.  … This tart/sweet quality is a great deal of what gives this band, and this recording, its sense of play.
… The Micros are ideal interpreters of Thelonious Monk…”
- Will Layman, Popmatters, February 24, 2011

Lucid Culture:
“It makes sense that the Microscopic Septet would do a Thelonious Monk cover album. Their new album Friday the 13th is a mix of unselfconsciously joyous, sometimes devious new arrangements of tuneful toe-tapping gutbucket jazz. Monk can be weird and offputting sometimes…but he can also be great fun, and this is mostly the fun Monk. … They’ve never met a style they couldn’t lovingly satirize, but this isn’t satire: it’s part homage, part using the compositions as a stepping-off point for their trademark “did you hear that?” moments.
Monk is also very specific: there’s no mistaking him for anyone else. So covering such an individual artist is a potential minefield:… The good news is…the arrangements are as unpredictably entertaining as you would expect from this crew – which is a lot. … The songs here are a mix of iconic standards along with a couple of unexpected treats: an off-kilter, martial version of the extremely obscure Gallop’s Gallop that comes this close to galloping off the cliff, and a fluid, relaxed take of the vacation tableau Worry Later, one of several numbers to feature a stripped-down arrangement… they adhere closely to Monk’s tendency to pare down segments of the songs…
The opening track, Brilliant Corners establishes another very effective arrangement strategy here, portioning out pieces of the melody to individual voices, one by one. The title track gets a slightly more straight-up swing treatment than the original, soprano saxophonist Phillip Johnston contributing spot-on, blithely wary atmospherics. By contrast, Teo gets a bizarrely effective trio arrangement…
… The single most gripping arrangement here, Off Minor, finds its inner noir core and dives deeply into it with a spine-tingling series of handoffs as the saxes go up the register in turn, one by one. … The album winds up with a neat version that makes short work of Epistrophy: originally a boogie blues, they turn it into a little diptych, moving from echoes of Coltrane to a smooth swing with more of the tasty soprano/baritone tradeoffs that occur throughout this almost infinitely surprising album.”
– Delarue, “The Microscopic Septet Play Monk to a Tie”, Lucid Culture, February 8, 2011

“The Microscopic Septet play Thelonious Monk on their new Friday the Thirteenth … The ensemble’s deliriously rubbery rhythmic swing and angular harmonic sensibilities make them a band Monk would have indeed loved.”
– David Greenberger, Metroland,

The Scotsman:
“… The line-up of four saxophones and rhythm trio offers ample scope for their often quirky arranging skills. Their approach to the material is more respectful and less experimental than in much of their earlier work, but is still infused with the idiosyncratic spirit of adventure that has been their trademark, and ensures even the warhorses here emerge in fresh and engaging colours.”
– Kenny Matheson, The Scotsman, January 9, 2011,

Time Out NY:
“…on its latest CD, Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk, the band plays up its obvious affinities with Thelonious Monk's wry canon.”
Time Out NY, December 2, 2010,

“WMUA – Top 50 CD’s of 2010 … 25. Microscopic Septet - Friday The Thirteenth: The Micros Play Monk - Cuneiform”
- Ken Irwin, Jazz Music Director and Host of "Java Jazz", WMUA - FM

Bill Shoemaker:
“Bill Shoemaker’s (Point of Departure) Best of 2010 List …3. Microscopic Septet: Friday the Thirteenth: The Micros Play Monk (Cuneiform) …” – Bill Shoemaker, December 30, 2010

Public Radio Tulsa:
“…On today's show, we're speaking by phone with the renowned music critic and author Bob Blumenthal, a Grammy-winning jazz writer… Blumenthal is telling us about six of his favorite releases of the year…: … The Microscopic Septet --- "Friday the Thirteenth" (Cuneiform)…”
– Rich Fisher, “The Best Jazz CDs of 2010: Some Ideas for Holiday Gift-Giving”, Public Radio Tulsa, December 20, 2010

Acid Dragon:
“The Microscopic Septet are both wise in their choice of material as well as in their meticulously conceived and quite stunning and refreshing arrangements, beautifully played by a sax quartet backed by a piano (of course!), bass and drum. …’Friday the 13th’ is a breath of fresh air- there is not a weakness or a dull moment on this album and it will appeal to those who know Monk’s music as well as those who are new to it. …I certainly didn’t hear a better jazz album in 2010.” – Phil Jackson, Acid Dragon (France)

Eric Nemeyer’s Jazz Inside:
“…the most significant jazz composer after Duke Ellington [was]…Thelonious Monk… Upon his emergence in what would eventually become the bebop scene in 1940s New York City, Monk was considered an oddball… Monk had a minimalist approach (…in terms of economy and space) and partial rejection of the European classical (piano) tradition. Further, he maintained a dry, somewhat loopy sense of humor at a time when many jazz players wanted to be perceived as “artists,” not “entertainers.” …
The Microscopic Septet was perhaps the greatest American jazz band…in the ‘80s… Based in NYC, the Micros embraced virtually the entire jazz continuum…when the spotlight of the jazz world shown on…Reboppers.  …the Micros combined the smooth, assured élan of a big band (think Ellington, Woody Herman) and the thorny swing of a small band. …The Septet and Monk are a nice fit, as their cheeky, charmingly quirkiness dovetails with that of Monk, expressively and luminously highlighting the angularity and innate swing in his compositions.
…Soprano guy Phil-lip Johnston tips his fedora to Steve Lacy on “Worry Later” without ever “sounding like” him. …Pia-nist Joel Forrester (wisely) doesn’t emulate Monk, but shares his why-play-a-torrent-of-notes-when-a-select-few-will-do concept. In fact, the Microscopiuc Septet values nd embodies conciseness– the saxophonists swagger, roar, shout, wail, and skronk but know when to rein it in, keeping the proceedings tight, dynamic, swingin’, and punchy. …the Microscopic Septet remind the collective Us that jazz was at one time a form of popular music bringing that sparkle to the table without any pandering to an “audience.” The Micros may be too unique for its own good – too “out” for bebop and big band stalwarts and too “inside” for the “out” crowd – get this excellent and prove this writer wrong.”
– Mark Keresman, Eric Nemeyer’s Jazz Inside, Jan. 2011

“5 stars …. The four-saxes/keys/bass/drums combo the Microscopic Septet are ideal interpreters of Monk, grandly and luminously highlighting the joyous, fractured quirkiness and innate swing in his compositions.”
– Mark Keresman, “keresman on disc”, Icon, Jan. 2011

Jazz Journal:
“Monk’s compositions are the standards of modern jazz… The Micro Septet put their own impressively unique slnt on this wonderful, idiosyncratic music. With a four sax front line they dissect and reassemble Brilliant Corners to their own specification and, not surprisingly it comes out sounding event more unusual and challenging. Johnston’s quirky soprano lines and the alto solo by Davis ensure an iunvigorating and decidedly fresh interpretation. Pianist Forrester does his own thing, his lines fleet and serpentine but he  wisely maikes no attempt to emulate the composer’s chunky, percussive style. The horns are all their own men with no reference to past masters of Monk reading.
…The Micros are a lively, inventive, occasionally capticius group who have fun with Monk’s music but, in the main show how great their respect for it is.  I’m only sorry this CD was too late for my best of 2010 or it would certainly have topped the list.”
– Derek Ansell, Jazz Journal (UK), Feb 2010

La Scena Musicale:
“…it’s not easy to give well-worn vehicles a new spin… An artist has to make his or her own voice heard in order to effectively interpret a piece, while maintaining some connection to the original material. Not an easy task, but it’s possible, as evidenced by the following releases.
The Microscopic Septet: Friday the Thirteenth
…long lasting collaboration between two Monk lovers. The present album is their band’s testament to their main influence, both in inspiration and style. This New York septet consists of a saxophone quartet backed by a standard rhythm section, an instrumentation that gives a very clear picture of what Monk was all about. …The musicians will at times dance around the melody without straying too far, as in the title track…though piano and bass contribute subtle solos for just the right balance. …This sterling and sometimes quirky horn section affords the listener a good opportunity to rediscover Monk’s offbeat melodies.”
– Alain Londes, “Tributes to the Masters”, La Scena Musicale (Canada), April 2011

“Among Monk’s more daring devotees, the Microscopic Septet have been playing smart, funny and beautiful Monk-inspired music for a couple of decades… The septet returns to the source on Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk (Cuneiform) abnd does its mentor proud in the wit department, giving it up merrily to Thelonious without being utterly felonious.”
– Richard Gehr, “Ear Crystals”, Relix, Dec. 2010

Musica Jazz:
“Thelonious Monk…is somehow at the bottom if the Micros’ story: in 1974 Forrester visited Johnston after having heard him playing Well, You Needn’t from his window.
The two…propose…different arrangements: the pianist underlines – in Pannonica and Worry Later – the influences that the stride piano and european music had on Monk, while the saxophonist…in Friday the Thirteenth – pays homage to Steve Lacy, while every solo recalls other Monk’s themes.
Always in balance between affection and irony, they have been able to pay homage to the tradition without losing their ability to renew, even in a dramatic way. This successful CD is one of the best tributes ever paid to Monk.”
– Francesco Marinelli, translated by Isabella Antoniol, Musica Jazz [Italy], Dec. 2010

The Sydney Morning Herald:
“3.5/5 stars …These days, he [Monk] is acclaimed as one of jazz’s great composers, a hallmark of his work being its humor. This is an attribute shared by New York’s Microscopic Septet, co-led by Sydney resident Phillip Johnston…
The Micros…here…opt for an all-Monk program. They are just the right band for the job, playing with love rather than reverence.
The front line of four saxophones…offer a beautifully voiced lushness when appropriate, while Forrester, bassist David Hofstra and drummer Richard Dworkin ensure the rhythms have the requisite blitheness, while putting their own stamp on them.  The result is enduring and highly entertaining. “
– John Shand, The Sydney Morning Herald [Australia], March 12-13, 2011


The Wall Street Journal:
"… By 1980, Messrs. Forrester and Johnston had created the Microscopic Septet, a wildly idiosyncratic, devastatingly accomplished ensemble that…built a small, devoted following and a big catalog of brilliant original compositions. The septet rarely played a tune written by anyone else; when the group did, more often than not it was one of Mr. Monk's.
So their latest CD "Friday the Thirteenth: The Micros Play Monk"…would seem a natural, if not overdue, development. …
It's only within the past 20 or so years that Mr. Monk has entered mainstream jazz repertoire, leading to many less-than-revelatory readings. "On so many recordings," Mr. Johnston said, "Monk's music, which is edgy and personal and unique, gets ironed out."
The music's knotty structures, its unexpected twists, are never flattened in the septet's versions. At Birdland, Mr. Johnston's arrangement of "Brilliant Corners"—a composition so challenging that Mr. Monk's original version is stitched together from 25 incomplete takes—added yet more complexity… Mr. Forrester's arrangement of "Pannonica" calibrated the sentiment just right, passing the tune's descending four-note motif around the band until, finally, it became a cascade of tones. On the new recording, "Gallop's Gallop" rides a parade beat, "We See," a cha-cha-chá rhythm.   …
The new CD includes brief arrangers' notes worth consulting. Mr. Johnston points to the "punk" aesthetic he hears in Monk's "Teo"…and reveals how, on "We See," he worked in snatches of a tune he'd written for a rock band…  Mr. Forrester describes "Off Minor" this way: "The bridge starts out offering a shaft of sunlight but that gets shut off in a hurry, as the coal tram careens elsewhere."
Toward the end of Mr. Monk's life, the pianist was essentially secluded in the second-floor bedroom of Pannonica de Koenigswarter's home in Weehawken, N.J. Mr. Forrester, then in his 30s, occasionally played the Steinway just outside Mr. Monk's room. If Mr. Monk disliked what he heard, the door would slam shut. If he was pleased, it would creak slowly open.
Mr. Monk wouldn't tolerate repetition, imitation, or flowery embellishment. "What he was interested in," Mr. Forrester said, "was me working out the implications of what I'd composed. I think Monk found his own destiny, and his music has that bracing free quality that encourages people to find their own. And so I've finally made an about-face from my resistance to doing this project. I feel like we've come up with something that's a way of expressing gratitude to Monk for his music."
– Larry Blumenfeld, “The Micros Keep Monk 'Knotty'“, The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2010 

Point of Departure:
“Phillip Johnston: …  For me, arranging someone else’s work is all about weird associations that you make because that’s how you see the world. …
Joel Forrester: … What makes us laugh… is what rubs against…against the flow:  coincidence, weirdness (a word with its roots in destiny), anomaly, freakiness (a word with its roots in dancing).  Don't terms of that sort inevitably pop up when Monk is discussed?  I reckon that's because he was on his own time...wherever it led.  His tunes and his playing of them had the pronounced ability to STOP (temporarily) the listener's participation in the crush of the normal time-vibe…
Forrester: My brain, addled by an idea out of Plato, sometimes believes that the tunes I try to write already exist, whole and complete, SOMEWHERE ELSE; that my job is to bring them to being, here.  Then it's like fishing:  I feel the strike, then the lively weight on the other end; and the question is whether I can land the critter.  But the tunes that are born out of improvising with my mates are even more special.  No need for idealist fantasy, there!  …
Shoemaker: Monk is now universally venerated, which should be an unqualified good thing, but it’s problematic to the degree that slews of musicians, particularly younger musicians, feel obliged to play Monk’s music in a painfully studied manner; there’s none of the happenstance that Monk conveyed through his music, the feeling that the music just tumbled out onto the keys one day. Instead, you get a politically correct Monk.  Your arrangements subvert all that. There’s an irreverence to the garage band tom-fury beat Phillip applies to “Teo;” as breathtaking as it is, Joel’s ending to “Pannonica” is practically heretical compared to the straight-faced versions you now tend to hear. …
Forrester: What Monk's tunes subvert is the listener's expectations.  In my arrangements (and certainly in Phillip's !), you'll find the attempt to do precisely that; and how better to honor Monk?  … Clearly, Monk reveres James P. Johnson; but this gets expressed in an abstraction of stride rather than its imitation.  …
Johnston: I have always felt that most of the covers of Monk tunes recorded after his time, take Monk's music, which is edgy and unique and personal and iron it out – make it into mainstream jazz, a genre that I don't enjoy much. To me, most "jazz" is boring – not because it's not "avant-garde" or edgy …but because it lacks character, and it lacks stories. … I'm drawn to things that have their own unique world view – this is why I always mention people like Monk, Captain Beefheart, Steve Lacy, Charles Ives, Conlon Nancarrow, and Harry Partch in the same breath -- they express their own unique world views. I don't think any of these people were trying to be subversive or irreverent…they just were who they were. …they couldn't resist a compulsion to be who they were, even when it did them practical harm to do so.
That being said, I think it is possible to play Monk's music in, not the same, but in a related, spirit, to that which he played it - your own. The versions I've liked best are T.J. Kirk…and any versions by Steve Lacy or Misha Mengelberg's groups. …
But having your own world view doesn't mean a lack of interest in history - your history's a big part of your world view, the part of it you choose to take with you. As Monk took stride, Ives took hymns and patriotic songs, Nancarrow took boogie-woogie, the Micros take Monk (among other things). But you internalize it, you don't copy it, it's just part of who you are. …”
- moderated by Bill Shoemaker, “The PoD Roundtable” (w/ Phillip Johnston & Joel Forrester), Point of Departure, #31