In some respects, this is the story behind the making of Oneness, an Avant-Garde Jazz record inspired by a true giant of Jazz history like Thelonious Monk, released by saxophonist and recipient of 2023's Swiss Jazz Award Christoph Grab.
Recorded in just one day together with the prodigious Reflections quintet, a collective made by Grab Himself, Lukas Thoeni on Trumpet, Andreas Tschopp on Trombone, Bänz Oester on Bass and Pius Baschnagel on Drums, Oneness was conceived as a way to transport the music of Monk in the 21st century in a diverse, imaginative and forward-thinking style, adding to some of Monk's classics also some hidden gems that perhaps are less known, off the opulent body of work left by the American artist.
Christoph Grab's Reflections have done a truly magnificent job, on their personal rework of Monk's pieces. Some of the pieces are authentic masterclass of creative musicianship, where improvised solos taken in turns by Grab and the rest of the Reflections are craftly balanced in turns either by the Rhythm Section made by Oester and Baschnagel or by the Horns Section made by Grab, Tschopp and Thoeni, in a sublime triumph of organic interplay where every musician is allowed to express their own individuality without overtaking, at any point, the fundamental structure of any of their personalized reinterpretation of Monk's compositions.
The record in itself is a highlight after another; from the imaginative, sometimes tribal, wild and a tad esoteric album opener called Introspection, going through Skippy, a fabulous Jazz scat composition, where a breathtaking call and response between Grab's Sax and the rest of the collective's Horns Section, plus the added Baschnagel's drumming explosive sound, makes this tune being one of the most entertaining reworks of Monk's enormous musical backlog present on Oneness.
Among all the beauty originated by Grab and his Band Of Brothers on their new record, it's the closing tune of Oneness that really state, in a rather breathtaking fashion, the talent of these musicians and the magnitude of the whole project via a composition called Ugly Beauty. Originally conceived as a Waltz, by Monk, Ugly Beauty gets transformed by Grab and the Reflections in a piece of delicate Jazz Avant-Garde, played with enormous refinery by this highly talented musicians, mixing style and improvisations in an irresistible sonic cocktail of great beauty.
Oneness is one of those very rare records where new arrangements, awesome musicianship, sheer improvisational skills and forward-thinking attitude are able to transport the listener, almost effortlessly, the inspiring, although occasionally complex and challenging of an artist like Monk, to the new generations of music lovers with originality, style and remarkable artistic vision.
Sure enough, should he be still with us now, our website likes to believe that even Monk himself might have given his personal seal of approval on what Christoph Grab's Reflections have done to part of his immense body of work via such an excellent record like Oneness.
Oneness is out now and can be purchased via Amazon Music platforms worldwide.