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International harmony gets fans of Monk in the Mood

YOU realise how international the Dublin scene has become when you see a pianist from South Korea leading a group with a Slovakian saxophonist and an Australian bass player.

A classically-trained pianist with a jazz degree from Newpark Music Centre, So Young Yoon now teaches in Walton's New School of Music. Last Tuesday night in the John Field Room she led her own sextet in Monk's Mood, a tribute to Thelonious Monk.

Peter Dobai (tenor sax, from Slovakia) is another Newpark graduate, while Australian Damian Evans (double bass) has been living in Dublin for a few years now. The other three are Irish: Bill Blackmore (trumpet), Colm O'Hara (trombone), and Shane O'Donovan (drums).

So Young Yoon wrote the arrangements, leaving space for improvised solos. In the first few numbers the musicians sounded a bit stiff, but with Monk's Mood they began to relax and let themselves go. The three wind players responded well to each other, making the most of Monk's unique way with harmony and dissonance. The piano and bass intro to Think of One led the way for an atmospheric piece in a lovely lopsided rhythm.

Trumpet, trombone and tenor swopped the theme back and forth in a sombre Round Midnight, with dramatic piano, soft brushes on the drums and a quietly intense bass solo. Blackmore used a mute for a brisk trumpet solo in Well You Needn't. The pianist revelled in the fast tempo, as did O'Hara in his nimble trombone solo. Bemsha Swing was another highlight. Epistrophy featured a bluesy sax solo, some more muted trumpet and cross-rhythms. The encore, ending a very satisfying concert, was the ever-popular Monk's Blues.

The Phil Ware Trio continues its Monday night residency in JJ Smyth's, and tomorrow night's guest will be the up-and-coming tenor-player Matthew Halpin. Future guests of the trio include Bobby Wellins, coming on July 4.

Sunday Independent