Plugged in

Alyson Williams.

by Wade Gibbons

His father is considered one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. And one day his already celebrated son Thelonious Monk III will share similar legendary status.

Last night at the Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari on the Old Fort of Hilton Barbados, an appreciative audience got the opportunity to witness this inevitability.

The T S Monk Quartet, consisting of Monk on drums, Erik Privert on bass, Willie Williams on tenor sax and Helen Sung on piano, thrilled patrons with a variety of cohesive sounds that often moved from emphasis on Williams’ saxophone to Privert’s bass or Sung leading the way, and primarily with Monk at the foundation of the overall rhythm.

Their repertoire included Ask Me Now, Giant Steps, the intricate Seven Steps To Heaven made famous by Miles Davis, and Rhythm-A-Ning, which was perhaps the quartet’s best rendition of the night with some seamless pattern changes.

Sung took the lead on a number entitled Eronel demonstrating the dexterous ability which Monk had earlier gushed about. She delivered the intricate melody of this selection with some finesse, staying with the jazz base but her classical grounding frequently coming to the fore.

T.S. Monk caressing the drums.

Monk doesn’t beat the life out of the drums in the overpowering style of a Gene Krupa; he is more of a caresser. And he was at his best on Round Midnight, a number which he reminded his audience was a standard of his father’s. The chemistry between Privert and Williams on this number was particularly pleasing.

They were joined on stage by R&B/jazz singer Alyson Williams who jazzed up numbers such as Gershwins’ Summertime and she was particularly pleasing on People Make The World Go Round, made popular by The Stylistics back in the 1970s. Williams has had her troubles, and though her voice has lost some of the edge from the early 1990s, her time on stage was well spent.

The show got underway with Patricia Lowe on vocals, Neil Newton on bass, Rhea Drakes on piano, Luther Francois on saxophone and Gilson Silveira on percussion during a set that was warmly received by the gathering.

Lowe, a Brit with Barbadian origins, delivered a number of selections, some jazz standards, in a relaxed fashion that, taking into consideration the intimate ambience of the surroundings, were quite appropriate. Keeping within a comfortable vocal range, she rendered Endangered Species and Afro Blue, among several others, but was particularly engaging on the popular, often-covered Watermelon Man. The instrumental accompaniment was simply fantastic.††

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