Guitarist Miles Okazaki has for some time been working on playing the complete works of Thelonious Monk. This process has made for some great Instagram videos, but it was unlikely folks saw it coming that he’d release every single Monk song as a massive solo guitar album, or that he’d spring the album on the world today without any forewarning. In fact, as Okazaki notes, “This is the first time the complete Monk songbook has been recorded on a single solo instrument.” That’s pretty big deal to Beyoncé (in the verb form meaning to surprisingly release an album) on everyone. And much like Mrs. Knowles- Carter, Okazaki put in the work on this album, transcribing these songs to their essence an making this structure and inherent mangled beauty work on the guitar. With Miles Okazaki, there’s always the sense of the knowledge of the structure and the more natural qualities of the beauty in the music finding an sense of balance. This approach was natural with his own works or alongside folks like Steve Coleman, but to hear this approach all throughout the wizened weirdness of Monk songs involves listening for Okazaki’s extra sense of care here. There’s a lot here to delve into, andrightfulso, to hear a brilliant technician delve into an old master’s body of work. It’s a heck of a surprise for a Wednesday in August. Check it out and cop these six albums worth of music for the price of one after the jump.
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.