Mon July 10, 2023

MiXMONK 'On the Loose' (USA/BE)

Joey Baron: drums
Bram De Looze: piano
Robin Verheyen: tenor, soprano saxophone

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“These guys have balls!” (John Zorn)
“The definition of jazz!” (Jazz Nu, The Netherlands)

As a follow up to their 2018 debut album, MiXMONK is releasing ON THE LOOSE, followed by a European tour throughout 2022 and into the spring of 2023. With Eronel as the one and only Thelonious Monk composition, ‘On THE LOOSE’ is far from being one of the many typical tribute or repertory albums dedicated to the legendary pianist and composer. The trio mainly uses the unique Thelonious as a point of reference, including material by popular American songwriters that Monk liked to perform or to use as a model for one his own quirky pieces: he famously turned the showtune ‘Just You, Just Me’ into his own ‘Justice’. On the album the trio goes the opposite direction and reverts to the orginal melody. There’s also work by Monk-related composers such as the surprising ‘Who’s Bridge’ by Misha Mengelberg.

ON THE LOOSE has Baron, De Looze and Verheyen mixing it all up with new orginals of their own, especially written for the album. Among these are he title song by Verheyen, De Looze’s joyful Alberte, and Aren’t We All – a gorgeous ballad written by Mr. Baron. ON THE LOOSE was recorded in Ghent in June of 2021, benefiting form the natural acoustics of the Kraakhuis room and the mastery of sound engineer Vincent De Bast. The album is self produced by the band, for the Curatoes imprint.

The trio MiXMONK came about in 2017 when Bozar in Brussels asked its then composer in residence, Robin Verheyen, for ‘something’ to celebrate Thelonious Monks centennial year. That ‘something’ became a trio by extending the long standing duo of Robin Verheyen and pianist Bram De Looze with the exciting addition of master drummer Joey Baron. In order to not get too close to Monk’s regular quartet format, it was decided to do without a bass player. Intended as a one concert event, the band hit it off so well that a short follow up tour was booked. Then came a first record, some major festivals and more and more touring, with MiXMONK finally becoming a real band, geared to inventive interplay more than to solo grandstanding. Since MiXMONK started out with a 50/50 balance between Monk and orginal material by the band members, the number of actual Monk songs today has become less important than using Monk as a point of reference when adding things to the mix. Sometimes a concert may have no more than two Monk numbers, sometimes four or more. But whatever the case, Monk is always present through more or less direct references, quotes, work by contemporaries or related artsists – and through the general spirit of true small band playing.

Joey Baron (USA, 1955) master drummer for the greats, from Tony Bennett to Bill Frisell to John Zorn. David Bowie: “Metronomes shake in fear of Joey Baron, he’s so steady”

Bram De Looze (Belgium, 1991) - Rising piano star and composer on the international scene through the intriguing solo outings ‘Piano e Forte’ and ‘Colour Talk’. Member of Stephane Gallands Kemet, leader of Septych ensemble and his own trio with Felix Henkelhausen and Eric McPherson.

Robin Verheyen (Belgium, 1983) - Saxophonist-composer, New York based since 2012. popularly known as co-leader with Tom Barman of TaxiWars. Collaborations with Gary Peacock, Billy Hart, Marc Copland, Ralph Alessi. Genre crossing composer of The Bach Riddles.