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THELONIOUS 4
AMN Reviews: Thelonious 4 Meets Tony Miceli Live Show, October 19, 2013, Somethin’ Jazz Club, NYC Review by Monique Avakian The quintet was on time, but I was a little late. I walked in on a vibes solo and that was the start of one WOW after another. Oh! What a group! Time was upended, suspended, ingested and befriended. Like Nicola Tesla in that famous photo from the lab in Colorado, I remained seated, yet altered most certainly via the massive lightning bolts of creativity generated by the Thelonious 4 + 1. Playing an all-Monk program is an ambitious challenge for any and all who dare to try to have that much serious fun. This Pentagram of the Possible delivered a very satisfying evening of close listening and radical chances. The Thelonious 4 come to us from all points essential: Argentina (Guillermo Celano, guitar), Germany (Andreas Metzler, bass), and the Netherlands (Iman Spaargaren, saxophone). The group formed in the Netherlands while the members were studying at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. I like to romantically envision the Netherlands as a place hell-bent on encouraging all manner of constructivist hi-jinks; a place where building beautiful, functional, abstract concepts is cultivated both inside and outside of the mind. Tony Miceli and drummer Dan Monaghan both live in Philly, and, well, even the Vegetarians among us know all about the battle between the states on the finer points of the food item known as the “cheese-steak.” New York may come in second when it comes to cheese-steaks, but we were certainly in a privileged position to have Somethin’ Jazz Club host this group on October 19th. The group took us through Light Blue, Play it Twice, Bolivar Blues, Introspection, and Skippy (plus whatever tunes I missed). The solos were long and flavorful, and the group was tight and fierce, yet completely relaxed. Tony Miceli the vibist, remains not only eternally unruffled and specifically centered, but exudes a kind of “chill” that can only be expressed in degrees of warmth. Mirroring the deep duality of cold metal and warm sound forged by his instrument, Mr. Miceli consistently offers listeners the universe inside each and every singular choice of note, rhythm, concept, feeling and phrase. With an open mind and generous hand, he invites you take a trip into the outer and inner realms. The technique of a master vibist such as Mr. Miceli is a feat to be studied as well as appreciated for those us drawn to this instrument. If you’ve never seen this man play live, I highly recommend a trip to the city of Brotherly Love–he is such a highly evolved instrumentalist. “Ripping vibes solo!” read my notes, again and again. Continuing on with percussion, drummer Dan Monaghan was on board for the evening, and he is another feat to behold! I never heard this guy play before, and I’m dying to hear him again. Filled with joy and completely involved with the group and the music, this man echoed, threaded, motivated and united his cohorts into a space of group collaboration that drove the groove and rattled my heart to expansive heights of empathy. His way of playing seemed like a soulful kind of juxtaposition—he played in a certain way that seemed familiar, but his choices were kind of like giving us a concrete means to an unexpected and abstract end. It was cool approach, and he worked very well as complement to the vibes especially. Next up, Andreas Metzler on bass. In a group like this, it’s too easy to overlook this instrument, precisely because the bass might have to be more straight up at times in order to support all this wild experimentation. But Mr. Metzler refused to drift into obscurity. He provided all that the group needed, and then some. On “Introspection” in particular, Metzler supported the band rhythmically, but also had a melodic and conceptual grasp that allowed for a way~out kind of spontaneity that dove-tailed magnificently with the trippy guitar. As for the guitar, it’s interesting, because I used to think that putting guitar and vibes together was kind of redundant. And maybe that’s true if a guitarist plays conventionally with comping style and overall sound. But in the context of the Thelonious 4, Guillermo Celano actually propelled the group forward in all kinds of inventive ways, and not just sonically with electronics. Unlike a lot of guitarists, Celano was able to show restraint and lots of it. This made his excursions super powerful, not only when he soloed, but also when he comped for others. His comping style seems quite melodic and harmony driven. Celano’s choices during Bolivar Blues were terrifically juicy and invigorating as he had this unusual way-out surfer vibe going. It was very abstract, yet he never left the room. Tre’ cool. Iman Spaargaren on sax also showed really effective restraint. He, too, felt a lot more melodic, and the way he solos helped my ear engage. Sometimes, sax players get hung up on antics and rapid runs up and down to the point where I kind of check out because it feels sort of like a cut and paste exercise. Spaargaren, however, had none of that going on. I noticed he had a way of breathing that involved filling the throat. I’m not sure about all the specifics of this kind of technique, but Spaargaren offered a lot of nuance and subtlety that made him rather magnetic. He took the role of announcer and near the end wittily quipped: “The time goes faster than we can play.” I was sad to have it end. This was a real listening adventure and a beautiful evening. CD: Thelonious 4 Meets Tony Miceli: http://www.thelonious4.com/music.html (complete with liner notes, and even a poem written by an enthusiastic individual named Guy Zinger! )
CD review Jazzism 2013 Thelonious4 Meet Tony Miceli Dot Time Records JAZZ ****½ You can't say there are not many musicians who look into the heritage of Thelonious Monk. The clear, self-willed compositions as well as the powerful usage of rhythms inspire new generations over and over again. On their third album Thelonious4 (Iman Spaargaren - saxophone, Guillermo Celano - guitar, Andreas Metzler - double bass and Jurjen Bakker - drums) continue to build on Monk's starting points questioning jazz conventions by using harmonical and rhythmical contrasts. Especially the from time to time wrongheaded presence of the guitar gives the band an own signature which transcends epigonism. The tight swing of the rhythm section fits the Monk tradition too. The addition of the fluently frasing vibraphone player from Philadelphia gives the music an extra melodic layer and more dynamics. One moment the saxophone of Spaargaren hints at Charlie Rouse's playing, and then he takes a concise sidestep (Ken Vos, Jazzism, September 2013).
Some years ago Thelonious4 bassist, Andreas Metzler met U.S. based vibraphone player Tony Miceli on one of his famous European vibraphone work tours. Tony and Andreas ended up talking about music and found out that they shared a common love for the works of Thelonious Monk. After some discussion the idea came up to join forces, set up a tour and record a CD together. This tour took place in Europe in 2012 and followed by a number of studio dates,the result was “Thelonious4 meets Tony Miceli”. When asked about his collaboration with Thelonious4, Tony stated in a recent interview on this site, “I met Andreas Metzler in Holland. I go to Europe a few times a year to do workshops and gigs. I met Andreas at a workshop I was doing. He knew I was into Monk and asked me if i wanted to play with his band. I said yes and the rest is history. Let me say what an amazing experience it was to play with these guys. First off, they’re not American. It’s a different culture and jazz means something a little different to them I think. For me that was great. I learned a lot playing with. I play most of the time in a very traditional way. I like it! But they were crazy and that I loved. I felt free. I was playing all this music in a whole different way for me. After we did that cd, I came home inspired! They are really great players! “ The U.S. dates will also feature Tony Miceli and see the band playing clubs in New York, Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia. read full interview with Tony Miceli in JAZZ CORNER
The US-American Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) is considered one of the most important composers of modern jazz. Many of his 71 pieces in total, such as “Blue Monk”, „Round Midnight“ or „Episcopy“, have become classic jazz standards - first class jazz standards. The Dutch group Thelonious 4 around Andreas Metzler, originally fromKonstanz, have committed to re-interpret the music of the jazz titan Monk. In their performance in the K9 on Thursday evening they proved in a very refreshing manner to 20 paying listeners, how innovative and trend setting Monk’s music can still be today. “Just like us, there are a number of groups in jazz that specialize on Monk. But still the music remains attractive to us. Because we are very familiar with Monk’s music, we can take the freedom to break out of given forms and give the music our own touch” says Andreas Metzler - who grew up in Konstanz and lives in Amsterdam today - after the concert. Interestingly, the Quartett with Andreas Metzler on bass, Guillermo Celano (guitar), Iman Spaargaren (saxophon) and Jurjen Bakker (drums) makes do without a pianist, above all as Monk was an educated pianist. It was particularly on Guillermo Celano and his guitar, who gave the jazz pieces a rock- and blues-like image. Playing with the sound by using his foot-pedal over and over again, the Argentinean let the tones flow and slip away from his guitar only to re-capture them just second later. In a raffish manner, with his shirt unbuttoned half way, rolled up sleeves and a Lionel-Messi-memory-haircut his playing and joy in experimenting resembles at times that of Jimi Hendrix, for instance when he used a pencil to hit the strings of his guitar. The band functions as a collective In their five years of playing together, however, none of the musicians of the Quartett, which met during their musical studies at the Conservatory in Amsterdam, is explicitly distinguished. “Our band has no star or a leader; we work and function as a collective” tells us Andreas Metzler, who, as the only native German speaker in the group, took over announcing the pieces that evening in a Spartan but very sympathetic way. In fact, mostly he just named the title of the next piece. After two sets, which predominantly focused on Monk’s rather unknown and difficult pieces, and an encore (“Criss Cross”), the four musicians were bid farewell with a well deserved applause. The performance of the Quartett, which was organized by the Jazzclub Konstanz, proved that Monk’s music can be independently and individually spiced with new elements, without loosing the groove in the pieces. Interpreting Monk’s music: Jurjen Bakker (drums) and Iman Spaargaren (saxophon) of Thelonious 4.
Thelonious4 Live at the Hot House Ladwig Jazz Records Line up: Iman Spaargaren (s), Guillermo Celano (g), Andreas Metzler (b), Jurjen Bakker (d) In a short period of time Iman Spaargaren has been releasing a lot of music. He is actively involved in different disciplines in jazz music. His contribution with Thelonious4 could be seen as his most serious project. The group plays Monk's music, but you would have unstood that anyway. And without a piano. Amsterdam and the love of Monk's music are two major factors in the music of the band. Guitar player Guillermo Celano found his way to the Dutch capital from Argentina and double bass player Andreas Metzler switched from Swiss to Amsterdam. On the 20th of november 2010 Thelonious4 played at jazzclub Hot House in Leiden. The concert was recorded quite straight forward and put on disc . In the quiet pieces you can hear a photographer at work. Of course it's all about Monk and his powerful compositions. Thelonious4 try their best to rebuild them and to put it in Spaargaren's words: 'to have them come out of the Thelonious4 blender totally fresh'. The compositions of Monk are closely examined while a preset outcome is not their goal. They even go that far that as a listener you might think they're studying the pieces like a exercise performed live. Spaargaren stands out as a typical characteristic horn player. On the website of Thelonious4 have been put video's of the concert. The low ceiling of Hot House explains the muffled sound of the recording of the concert. 'Live at the Hot House' is a pure concert recording which will be appreciated more when one listens to it more. In the beginning of 2012 Thelonious4 has a tour in Europe with vibraphone player Tony Miceli. Peter J. Korten, Jazzflits 2011
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