Music Reviews
Randy Weinstein

Randy Weinstein

Harmonimonk

Random Chance Records

Randy Weinstein is a New York based harmonica player. He has spent time in Chicago learning blues styles and played with Appalachian string bands, world music outfits, and jazz combos. When covid forced some downtime on the musician, he devoted it to learning recording techniques and adapting the Thelonious Monk catalog for harmonica.

Randy Weinstein
courtesy of Jazz Promo Services
Randy Weinstein

Harmonimonk features seven Monk tunes given cheerful arrangements by Weinstein. The emphasis here is strongly on the melody. Weinstein uses both chromatic and diatonic harmonicas with his playing, inevitably reminding me of Toots Thielemans. Weinstein is frugal with his backing musicians — there is just enough going on in the background to frame his melodies. On “Bye-Ya,” he’s accompanied by tuba and a Clyde Stubblefield sample. Michaela Gomez provides guitar support on “Bright Mississippi” and other tunes. I like that he credits the harmonica-MIDI parts on “Off Minor” as “fake bass flutes” and “fake fretless bass.”

I also like the way Weinstein has brought out the playfulness of Monk’s music. It’s too easy sometimes to think of the old man as some kind of jazz deity. Harmonimonk puts us in touch with the guy who liked to wear funny hats and dance to his sidemen’s solos.

Random Chance Records


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