T.S. Monk to Perform at VJC with heralded sextet

The Vermont Jazz Center will present the T.S. Monk Sextet on Saturday, September 20th at 8:00 PM. The group will include T.S. Monk on drums and vocals, Josh Evans (trumpet), Willie Williams (tenor sax), Patience Higgins (alto sax), Brandon McCune (piano) and Belden Bullock (bass).

T.S. Monk is the son of the legendary pianist, Thelonious Monk, whose compositions, style and persona form one of the greatest archetypes in all of jazz. T.S. grew up surrounded by a pantheon of jazz artists: John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, Mary Lou Williams, Johnny Griffin, Randy Weston and Bud Powell where all constant visitors to their New York apartment. As an indication of the inter-connectedness of the jazz greats of that time, Art Blakey gave T.S. his first drum set and Max Roach was his teacher. T.S. is known as Toot by those closet to him. This given name (taken from a children's book turned into a Disney movie) was immortalized in his father's composition: "Little Rootie Tootie." T.S. proudly served as Monk senior's drummer during his twilight years. Getting accepted to play with his father, Thelonious, was no small feat - Monk's challenging music is fundamentally driven by the propulsive energy of the drums; furthermore, it is essential for the percussionist to clearly mark the forms, support the melody and provide responses to Monk's musical "calls." "My father didn't cut corners or make any accommodations for me," says T.S., "he gave me the opportunity to earn my place on the bandstand. Fortunately, I did."

T.S. brings this keenly developed sense of history to the bandstand with every performance - he is a storyteller who evokes not just the tales of the past, but conveys his experiences directly: T.S. Monk is living history and we as listeners are fortunate to gain access to that world through his music and his generous willingness to share ideas and personal memories.

The T.S. Monk Sextet has been together as a unit with a revolving cast since 1992. Some, like saxophonist Willie Williams, have been core members since its inception. The band is at heart a repertoire group performing music of the hard-bop era, but the compositions they choose aren't your typical chestnuts. They perform a good sampling of Thelonious' lesser known compositions such as "Skippy" and "Think of One" As well as gems from the pens of some of jazz's greatest but less widely known masters: Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Melba Liston, Clifford Jordan, Idrees Sulieman, J. J. Johnson and Elmo Hope. T.S. has worked directly with arranger Don Sickler and others to coordinate his vision of what he (and many others) considers the golden age of jazz. Most of the music in T.S.'s repertoire was originally performed in the late 1950s, but today it is still relevant and alive. At the Vermont Jazz Center we will enjoy an evening of hard-swinging jazz performed by a polished ensemble who value interaction, authenticity and originality.

When he was 13 at a private boarding school, T.S. borrowed a pair of drumsticks from a dorm mate. He played on pillows and flat surfaces for two years before telling his father he wanted to play the drums. He then received lessons from Max Roach. Five years later, in 1970, T.S. joined his father's quartet and occasionally toured with him until the elder Monk retired in 1976 (his swan song was a glorious concert at Carnegie Hall with Toot accompanying on the drums). Since then T.S. has committed himself to music and education. During the 70s and early 80s he co-lead a very successful funk band with his sister and fiancé; but both young women tragically succumbed to breast cancer within months of each other, just two years after Thelonious had passed. After a phase of reflection, T.S. steered away from performing music and took on a task that his sister Barbara (Boo Boo) had poured her heart and soul into - realizing the potential of the Thelonious Monk Foundation. In 1986, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz was formed to "promote music education and to train and encourage new generations of jazz musicians." Since then, with T.S. at the helm as chairman of the board, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz has evolved into one of the most highly regarded educational institutions and jazz competitions in the world. Through an extremely selective program, the Monk Institute has furthered the careers of many of today's rising stars and created a culture of sharing and educational ambassadorship. The musicians who attend as grad-students are taught how to teach as well as to perform. Fundamental to their curriculum are tours around the US where these extraordinarily talented young people share their knowledge and skills with young students from schools that have suffered severe budget cuts to their music programs. Many students from these poorer schools have had no previous exposure to jazz. The Monk Institute's impact extends throughout the world thanks to a joint collaboration with UNESCO: the celebration of International Jazz Day provides an opportunity for thousands of performing and educational activities to take place in thousands of venues. Using social networking and free web-broadcasting their scope affects millions. This year there were programs in 196 countries and all 50 U.S. States.

T.S.'s focus on the Monk Institute served as motivation to once again connect with his music roots. After his hiatus he embraced his commitment to his instrument and formed the Sextet which has since received the New York Jazz Awards First Annual "Recording of the Year" award and Downbeats' 63rd annual Album of the Year and Reader's Choice Award for Monk On Monk. His sextet has been heard at numerous jazz festivals and prestigious venues across the United States, Europe, in Asia and the Middle East. Monk has also been featured on television talk shows, including CBS Sunday Morning.

At the Vermont Jazz Center, on September 20th, this well-oiled, hard-driving, hard-bop sextet comprised of New York's first call talent will perform a concert that marries the past with the future. The group includes T.S. Monk's tenor player of many years, Willie Williams a veteran of Blakey's Jazz Messengers, the second generation of Arthur Taylor's "Wailers," the Mingus Dynasty Band and many others. Trumpeter Josh Evans, an acolyte of Jackie McLean's, has recorded and toured with Kenny Barron, Orrin Evans, Rashied Ali, Joe Chambers, Winard Harper, Mark Turner and many others. Alto saxophonist Patience Higgins has recorded with Muhal Richard Abrams, Hammiet Bluiett, Mike Longo, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Yoko Ono, David Murray, Bobby Watson, Joey DeFrancesco, the Duke Ellington Orchestra and others. Pianist Brandon McCune has worked with Abbey Lincoln, Terrence Blanchard, Nneena Freelon, Betty Carter, Wynton Marsalis and many others. Bassist Belden Bullock has recorded on several of Abdullah Ibrahim's releases, as well as projects with Ralph Peterson, Oliver Lake, Jay Hoggard and the Spirit of Life Ensemble.

The Vermont Jazz Center is delighted to kick off its 18th season of concerts at the Cotton Mill with a real powerhouse of a show. This concert should not be missed. T.S. Monk states: "When you start talking about me doing my father's music, it sounds real easy to you because his name is Thelonious Monk and so is mine. But, I've got to do this right. If I do so, I'll make a great record and everybody will love it. If I do this wrong, people will resent it." Come hear living proof of the enduring and beautiful legacy of jazz music.

The T.S. Monk Sextet will perform at the VJC on Saturday, September 20th at 8:00 PM. This concert is made possible due to generous financial support from Alumni of the Windsor Mountain School with special thanks to organizer, Amy Messina. The VJC is also grateful to sponsors Beth Logan Raffeld & Philip Khoury. We are appreciative for ongoing support from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hospitality for our artists is provided by the Hampton Inn of Brattleboro. VJC publicity is underwritten by the Brattleboro Reformer, WVPR, WVEW and WFCR.

Saturday, September 20th
8:00 PM
Vermont Jazz Center
Sliding Scale ticket fee: $20.00 - $40.00
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