Monk’s Cha-Cha Live Solo Piano album by Bill O’Connell

Monk’s Cha-Cha: Solo Piano Live album by Bill O’Connell was recorded at The Carnegie – Farian Room  in The NYACK  Library, NYACK, NY on June 21, 2013.

Notes taken from CD Universe Products Description

Edition, adaptation, and comment by Toni Basanta from Fairfax, Vermont, USA

MONK’S CHA CHA was released on Feb 24, 2017 on the Savant label

SOLO PIANO ALBUMS  require real skills from the improvising artist to keep the listeners’ ears glued to the music.

The musical history of solo piano recordings is long and rich, and contains much emotionally compelling music.  Another good demonstration is here with Monk’s Cha-Cha.

Bill O’Connell is woefully under-recorded as a solo artist, given that he has been the first-call pianist for names like Ramon “Mongo” Santamaria, Sonny Rollins, Gato Barbieri, Dave Valentin,  Andrea Brachfeld,  Jon Lucien, Conrad Herwig, Bill Connors, Charles Fambrough and Jerry González’s Fort Apache Band, to name but a few.

Monk’s Cha-Cha: Solo Piano Live CD music On this CD, recorded in a beautiful-sounding concert venue in Westchester county, NY,  O’CONNELL’s  plays his own compositions with some covers of the standards “The Song is You”, “It Could Happen to You”, “Afro Blue” and “Dindi”.

O’Connell’s playing is very satisfying, not ostentatious or prone to dramatic effects, but is focused on careful development and further expansion of initial ideas.

Imaginative in spirit, his improvisations are quite controlled, never wild, never cloyingly sweet, yet very lyrical and impressionistic. A rare and winning combination.

Original liner notes for the album were written by TODD BARKAN and due to his valuable comments,  we will post them in a new edition for our BLOG visitors.

L J N = Latin Jazz Network Music Critic  RAUL DA GAMA wrote about the artist :

“Bill O’Connell continues to be in the springtime of his career and his last few recordings are wonderful testaments to a gift for composition  and performance … Latin Jazz is richer for O’Connell’s contributions as he adds volumes to the literature of the earthy dialect”

My comment

I met pianist BILL O’CONNEL for the first time in Havana Cuba during his visit as pianist musical director of flutist DAVE VALENTIN in the 1980s.

None of us knew a thing about Mr. Valentin’s band , but we were sure to be facing one of the most innovative and original music groups, and so it was counter-intuitive. After the third piece, the crowd at LA CASA DE LA CULTURA DE PLAZA in Calzada y 8 en El Vedado roared its approval.

Can’t remember all the musicians in Mr. Valentin’s group, but drummer Danny Gottlieb and pianist BILL O’CONNELL, and probably Lincoln Goines on electric bass. 

In their second presentation, they had two unforgettable guests, guitarist Octavio Kotan and trumpeter Jorge Varona,  who got along very easily with the international visitors.

In the 1980s, there was hunger of knowing about JAZZ IN THE US, and vice versa, due to a hardship of isolation due to political and government restrictions between CUBA and The United States of America.

Since 2006, when I came to live in VERMONT, I have 5 albums of BILL O’CONNEL as a leader, 3 with flutist ANDREA BRACHFELD as pianist co-producer,   2 as a sideman with guitarist BILL CONNORS  in a Rock Jazz Fusion context,  and 1 with trombonist CONRAD HERWIG and his LATIN SIDE BAND.

And now in MARCH 2007,  O’CONNELL’s mystic voyage with a very swinging exploration of the music written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Johhny Burke,  Jimmy van Heusen and  “Mongo” Santamaria.

In our radio show, THE CUBAN BRIDGE  yesterday afternoon,  SUNDAY MARCH 13, 2017, we presented O’Connell’s version of IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU.

In preparation, our segment of JAZZ MOMENTS WITH … will be dedicated to BILL O’CONNEL through all the aforementioned albums. I am sure our audience will taste and clap BILL O’CONNEL’S distinctly flavor.

We’ll be back,

Toni Basanta

DJ Host of The Cuban Bridge on the radio and on television












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