Album Review: Vito Dieterle and Joel Forrester – StatusSphere
Jazz fans are likely to pick up on the in-joke of this album’s cover art immediately. It’s a visual homage to the 1957 LP Monk’s Music. And the two round objects in the wagon are a nod to Thelonious Monk’s nickname, “Sphere.” StatusSphere is, then, a fitting name for a Monk tribute. Vito Dieterle plays tenor sax, and Joel Forrester takes on the daunting task of playing piano in a Monk style on this disc featuring a dozen duets. Forrester’s playing is deft and lyrical, but lacking in the idiosyncratic approach that defined Monk’s own approach to the keyboard. Of course that’s an unfair if inevitable comparison.
Rather than simply tackle a collection of Monk classics, Dieterle and Forrester give over just more than half of the set to Monk compositions. So we get the expected tunes like “Work,” “Ba-Lu-Bolivar Ba-Lues Are” and “Ruby My Dear” (and not one but two readings of “Crepuscle with Nellie”). But the disc also features five Forrester originals, written and played in a style that complements the Monk material.
In his brief liner note essay Forrester remarks upon Monk’s “involved detachment.” That phrase applies to the unspoken communication between the two musicians on this recording as well. They clearly get the spirit of Thelonious Monk, and they channel it admirably.
About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.