The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. This list represents books reviewed since Dec. 6, 2015, when we published our previous Notables list.
Two years after the death of pianist-composer Thelonious Monk, this very unusual and quite memorable double-LP tribute was put together. Producer Hal Willner's most successful project, the 23 interpretations of Monk originals all feature a different group of all-star players and stretch beyond jazz. Some of the performances are fairly straightforward while others are quite eccentric; certainly the crazy duet on "Four in One" by altoist Gary Windo and Todd Rundgren (on synthesizers and drum machines) and the version of "Shuffle Boil" featuring John Zorn on game calls (imitating the sound of ducks) are quite unique. There are many colorful moments throughout the project and the roster of musicians is remarkable: Bobby McFerrin with Bob Dorough, Peter Frampton, Joe Jackson, Steve Lacy, Dr. John, Gil Evans, Randy Weston, Roswell Rudd, Eugene Chadbourne and Shockabilly, the Fowler Brothers, NRBQ, Steve Khan, Carla Bley, Barry Harris, Was (Not Was) and many others. There is not a slow moment or uninteresting selection on this highly recommended set.
Bobby Patterson's I Get My Groove From You is a gritty 20-track collection of the Texas soul singer's '70s recordings, 19 of them recorded between 1971-1973 for Paula, one ("Right Place, Wrong Time") for All Platinum in 1977. He never had any hits, but Patterson's low-down delivery and the backing band's tough-as-nails sound deliver an enjoyable punch. He wrote most of the tunes here, focusing mainly on extracurricular affairs and their fallout.