The PianoLessMonk project returns after a few years off, to play the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais Series at the Umi Café on Sunday June 19 at 8 p.m. Many members of the group performed together almost exactly six months and 1.5 years ago at the Mercury Lounge to present a mix of Albert Ayler and Christmas carols. That project resulted in some very interesting music and a released CD. But as leader and saxophonist Bernard Stepien aptly noted, Christmas music doesn't have much of a summer audience.
PianoLessMonk has been playing together on and off for a long enough time for the group to get comfortable with each other. Bernard Stepien has played with reedman David Broscoe for 15 years, drummer Scott Warren for 10 years, and trumpeter Charley Gordon for 7 years. Bassist Philippe Charbonneau is the newest addition.
I asked Stepien what appealed to him about Monk's music.
“I started to listen to Monk's music 50 years ago and I never asked myself that question... so I have no answer,” he laughed.
And how does Stepien feel about playing Monk's music without his instrument?
“Monk is so great that I think you have to be an extraordinary piano player to be able to come close to what he was doing. We can always fake it without too much damage [laughing]. If a piano player fakes it, it's too obvious.”
– Brett Delmage