Higher Ground is T.S. Monk's first new album in over three years. And it's a welcome return, bringing the venerable drummer back to jazz's forefront. Additionally, it marks the debut of Monk's own record label, Thelonious Records, which will work in conjunction with HYENA for future releases that include "live" concert recordings of his father Thelonious Monk. While it might seem as if T.S. has been away for far too long, he's actually been hard at work wood-shedding his septet into one of the finest working bands in jazz. Higher Ground bears truth to that with its kinetic and infectious interplay, focusing on a variety of his bandmates compositions, including the beautiful and breezy "Ladera Heights" and the hard bop groove of "Craw-Daddy." Guest vocalist Miles Griffith also contributes on the Cedar Walton compostion, "Mosaic," for a brilliant slice of vocalese. One of jazz music's most viable band leaders, as well as a previous Downbeat Reader's Poll winner for "Drummer of the Year," T.S. Monk is back and ready to reclaim his spot atop contemporary jazz's illustrious hill.
Reviews"As to this album, Higher ground, we hear an eclectic collection of tracks that seem to fit well together. Even the rather odd vocal track Mosaic is a curious bit of modern bop, replete with aggro scatting and an almost happy jam sentiment. Girl Watchin' has a late Tony William's funky punch to it, Ladera Heights has a distinct acid jazz vibe to it (reminiscent of the more swinging efforts by Groove Collective or Brooklyn Funk Essentials), and Craw-Daddy is the theme song to a quiet day at your front door, sipping tea in the deep south, watching time go by. Happily at that.* There is some humor in Cubano Chant and the closer, Milennium Dance is a weird Vegas big-ensemble feel meeting a more ambitious set of charts." - Theloniusfunk Blog