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Monks ‘crazy in a good way’

February 8, 2020

By Kathy Edwards McFarland

Monks of Saturnalia at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm, performance:
Thursday Jan. 30, 2020 Review.

Drew Phelps, bass; Chris Holmes, drums, Jeffery Barnes, soprano sax, Steve Brown, tenor sax, and Gregg Prickett, Guitar … Monks of Saturnalia. Photo by Stephanie Reinke.

Recently on a cold and dreary Thursday night, a new Jazz group – Monks of Saturnalia – brought a refreshing to the Sweetwater patio stage, 115 S. Elm. Under the direction of Gregg Prickett, https://www.dallasobserver.com/music/gregg-prickett-is-dallas-most-adventurous-guitarist-and-possibly-its-best-7054065, one of the most advanced guitarist currently working in the Metroplex, five notable Jazz musicians presented a wild mix of contemporary, avant-garde be-bop, dissonant sounds and major rhythm charms to the sparse, but appreciative crowd.

With Prickett on his customized Strat; the always stunning Drew Phelps, one of the busiest and most accomplished bassists in North Texas, on either his acoustic double bass or electric bass, the group was completed with Steve Brown, who has performed with some the biggest names in jazz today, on tenor sax; the ever radical Jeffery Barnes on soprano sax, clarinet and wood flute, and Chris Holmes keeping up with the complex compositions on the Jazz drum set.

Prickett also leads a contemporary
classical, improv group –Trio du Sang

“The group started out as my response to (Charles) Mingus, https://mingusmingusmingus.com/mingus, and Eric Dolphy, https://www.npr.org/2014/02/25/282508306/still-out-to-lunch-50-years-later, but very quickly I realized that its possibilities were potentially much broader than any specified approach,” said Gregg Prickett, Monks of Saturnalia front man. “The focus is definitely to compose our own music and do it our way. We hope to take folks on the journey with us when we play but like any trip it’s not always going to be safe and familiar!

The set list for the Sweetwater gig was mainly from Prickett’s repertoire, beginning the night with He Walked Into the River (written for Albert Ayler), with two of Drew Phelps’ compositions thrown in.

Surprisingly Monks of Saturnalia, with a mere three performances, and three rehearsals, the “acolytes of Mingus” has proved worthy of being a most cohesive and enjoyable band. Looking forward to more Sweetwater sessions soon!

Editors Note: One of Monks of Saturnalia performances was at Dennis Gonzalez’s 65th Birthday Bash at Dallas’ Revelers Hall.

Find a little of Dennis’s trumpeting skills by visiting https://dennisgonzalez.bandcamp.com/

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