Boppy small-big-band singer Marc Pompe's Monk's Dream is his seventh CD and marks the spot where piano bar, Vegas, and local weekend watering hole meet. The title doesn't truly indicate a Thelonius Monk tribute, not really, not quite to these ears, though that broad inference is made in the liner notes. Just that particular one of the 11 cuts is indeed the T. Monk composition, accompanied by one more (Ask Me now). Ironically, Monk's Dream is the most dynamic selection of a highly varied quite listenable roster and the one wherein Pompe struts his fullest range, impressive, Sinatra-inspired and then some.
I should note once again that I'm not particularly enamored of Sinatra, seeing him as little more than a narrow-ranged sprechestimme practitioner. Pompe also falls into that a bit too often—though, again, his Monk's Dream track is pure art. To my mind, Marc makes too many wrong or cliché decisions while tending a bit too often to a flattened bandwidth, as was Frankie's wont. Contrast that with my favorite Sinatra-y singer, Jason Paul Curtis (here), and the difference is readily seen. Or jog over to Joe Ferrara's outrageous over-the-top rendition (here), taking the whole gig about as far as it will go.
Still, Pompe is quite good at what he does and will doubtless find warm reception within Frank's legions of admirers; the guy's six previous discs prove that. Too, Bob Ojeda's charts are pure Vegas splashy, exhilarating, and do much in matrixing the singer, including a number of great brief solos. Should you, though, testing my critical aplomb, desire a parallel to what I propound—and I'm definitely in the minority in both cases—I ain't all that impressed by Mark Murphy either. When, among other things, I heard his version of Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good to You, I couldn't , for one thing, believe how shoddily the musicians were recorded. Then the singing in that cut and elsewhere in the twofer I have, Jazz Standards, wasn't all that thought-provoking either.
Yep. S'true. Yet he's released a hell of a lot of CDs on respectable labels and is considered the bee's knees by many top flight crits, singers, and musicians. So if you, unlike me, dig Murphy and Frankie, then you'll certainly find much in Pompe; I just won't be at that party. Knock back a shot as though I were, however, and everything'll be fine. It all works out.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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