Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

That's the Way I Feel Now: A Tribute to Thelonious Monk [A&M, 1984]
At first this ambitious two-disc multiple-artist memorial to the greatest composer of the post-World War II era left me cold--be nice if a few kids got pulled in by Joe Jackson or Todd Rundgren, but I'd been a Monk fan since the '50s. And indeed, I still prefer Monk's Monk to anybody else's, so much so that the discography here has me expanding my collection. But only Donald Fagen's synthesizers and John Zorn's weirdnesses approach the level of desecration jazzbos discern, and more often the extravagantly good-humored (NRBQ) or carnivalesque (Dr. John) or obvious (Chris Spedding) rock interpretations are instructive alongside the subtler, more reverential readings of Steve Lacy, Barry Harris, Sharon Freeman. In short, when I feel like Monk, occasionally I may play this. A-