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Freddie Bryant's “Monk Restrung” Album Release at Dizzy’s Club "Coca-Cola"
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Freddie Bryant's “Monk Restrung” Album Release at Dizzy’s Club "Coca-Cola"

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Monday Nights with WBGO
Freddie Bryant “Monk Restrung” Album Release

Freddie Bryant on Guitars
Peter Bernstein on Guitar
Romero Lubambo on Guitar
Howard Alden on Guitar
Gregory Ryan on Bass
Willard Dyson on Drums

Frederick P. Rose Hall
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola
Broadway at 60th Street
(Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola Website)
Roland Chassagne, Manager
Jason Olaine, Director of Programming & Touring
Desmond L. Prass, Asst. Manager
L.A. Thompson, Venue Manager, Great Performances
Zooey T. Jones, JALC Director, Public Relations

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 28, 2016

Freddie Bryant, a master guitarist, who has been favorably reviewed over the years on these pages, came to Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola tonight to ring in the beginning of the Holiday Season with the crème de la crème of guitarists on stage and in the audience. Bryant’s new album, “Monk Restrung”, with recordings dating back a decade but ever so timeless and in demand, was being celebrated at this special Monday Night WBGO event. Romero Lubambo and Howard Alden have also been frequently and favorably mentioned in this column, and Peter Bernstein, another guitar great, joined Bryant tonight, as well. Guitarist, Gene Bertoncini, also in the audience, is a master and a pro. The onstage band was expanded with Willard Dyson on drums and Gregory Ryan on bass. I arrived at the end of the first set, staying through the second. Monk’s “Rhythm-a-ning” was the number I caught on arrival, with a bluesy deep-toned guitar duo for Lubambo and Alden, whose rapid racing across the strings enhanced the virtuosic theme.

Monk’s “Played Twice” opened the second set with Bryant’s guitar, Ryan on bass, and Dyson on drums. Strong percussion with a hint of atonality in echoing refrains was gorgeous. Dyson’s drum pulse was contagious. Monk’s “Ugly Beauty” opened with the entire group in Monk’s singular, waltz-like tune. The four guitarists introduced the theme, before Alden took the upbeat, melodic lead. Bernstein was featured next with unembellished, pure tonality, before Bryant turned the tune inside out in contemporary motif. Lubambo, with his enchanting Brazilian flair, added sultry rhythms, and then Ryan’s bass solo imbued the sound with depth. Dyson ended the piece with fluttering cymbals. “Monk’s Mood” followed with a Lubambo-Bryant duo performance of joy and eloquence. With contrasting and blended themes, balmy and buoyant, they landed on a final note together, after different rhythms abounded. With similar musical threads, they again created a combined pulse, ending in the same final flash.

The next spotlighted duo, Bryant and Bernstein, breezed through Monk’s “Round Midnight”. This seasoned duo harmonized in the higher and lower registers with sensuous tones. Bryant’s “Take Your Dance into Battle” brought Bernstein into the treble phrases, while Bryant provided rhythmic accompaniment. Bernstein’s guitar sang like a soprano and the tune ended in a whisper. Ryan joined the duo on bass for the brief “Brilliant Corners”, by Monk, played as a dirge, prior to some showcased moments for the four guitarists. When the full ensemble amassed for the gorgeous, free-wheeling finale, I had already stopped taking detailed notes. This is music for enveloped listening. The final harmonies were extraordinary, generating approving glances from each musician to the other. A rambunctious drum solo from Dyson fired up the organic ensemble, and Lubambo and Alden grabbed a sensational duo spotlight. Kudos to all, and kudos to the incomparable Thelonious Monk, on the 99th (plus two months) anniversary of his birth.

And now I will listen to the Monk Quartet playing "Round Midnight".

Peter Bernstein, Gene Bertoncini, Freddie Bryant, Romero Lubambo
at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Howard Alden at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Willard Dyson at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at