Firehouse 12 • 45 Crown Street • New Haven, CT 06510 • 203.785.0468

John Hebert
Byzantine Monkey

Released : 6/16/2009
Catalog Number : FH12-04-01-010
1 disc
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DISC 160:22$8.99Download CD
Click on a song to listen...
1La Reine De La Salle04:40$0.89Download Song
2Acrid Landscape08:46$0.99Download Song
3Run For The Hills07:17$0.89Download Song
4Blind Pig05:37$0.89Download Song
5Ciao Monkey07:01$0.89Download Song
6Cajun Christmas06:19$0.89Download Song
7Fez08:52$0.99Download Song
8For A.H.04:42$0.89Download Song
9Fez II01:43$0.89Download Song
10New Belly05:20$0.89Download Song

Byzantine Monkey, bassist/composer John Hébert's long-awaited debut recording as a bandleader, documents his New York-based sextet of the same name featuring frequent collaborators Michaël Attias, Tony Malaby, Adam Kolker, Nasheet Waits and Satoshi Takeishi. Hébert’s original compositions for the group take their inspiration from a variety of sources, including his interest in Cajun music, his travels to different parts of the world and his gratitude and respect for his mentor, legendary pianist/composer Andrew Hill, with whom Hébert worked from 2001 until his death in 2007.

The musicians bringing that music to life in Byzantine Monkey have all worked extensively with Hébert in other ensembles, including Attias, Kolker and Malaby’s own groups and Hill’s trio and quintet. "Byzantine Monkey is me, and Byzantine Monkey is the band," writes Hébert in the liner notes. "All of our voices together, telling one story."

John Hebert :: bass
Tony Malaby :: tenor & soprano saxophones
Michael Attias :: alto & baritone saxophones
Nasheet Waits :: drums
Satoshi Takeishi :: percussion
Adam Kolker :: flute, alto flute, bass clarinet

Press Reviews for Byzantine Monkey

First and foremost, Hébert has his own sound, not an easy accomplishment for a bassist. Big, rich, tones and a penchant for melodic lines (even in the most frenetic pieces) makes his playing stand out. Byzantine Monkey takes the listener out of the everyday world into a landscape of mature melodies, splendid musicianship and highly creative interplay. It's an aural landscape one can return to time and again, uncovering new paths to follow.
-Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant that engages the ear and teases the intellect...a depth of engagement that simply seems to elude a lot of contemporary jazz.
-Nic Jones,

Byzantine Monkey is a strong debut of a new band of old colleagues.
-David Ryshpan, Exclaim!

Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12) is the engrossing debut from John Hébert, a bassist of deep intuition and extensive experience as a sideman.
-Nate Chinen, New York Times

On his first album as a leader he displays a sonic vision that's all his own, even while sticking mostly to a support role. The leader has written nine lovely themes, some ebullient, some sorrowful, some fragile, and he directs his cohorts to elucidate and dance around the melodies with a mix of freedom and communicativeness. In particular, the intertwining lines of Tony Malaby, brawny and fat, and Michaël Attias, lithe and stinging, provide an exuberant dance on contrast.
-Peter Margasak, DownBeat

Per qualità della scrittura, equilibrio esecutivo, ispirazione, bellezza complessiva, Byzantine Monkey è uno dei dischi jazz del 2009.
-Enrico Bettinello, AllAboutJazz-Italia

...Byzantine Monkey es uno de los mejores estrenos de lo que llevamos de 2009. Un disco que sin duda hará que quien no lo haya hecho todavía, fije su atención en el trabajo de este magnífico contrabajista.
-Pachi Tapiz,

Tous les morceaux de ce disque, et en particulier "New Belly" (dernier et peut-être plus beau morceau du disque), sont emprunts de la complicité qui unit Hébert au batteur Nasheet Waits. Les deux hommes sont en totale osmose, semblent entretenir de télépathiques relations renforcées par l’absence de piano qui leur laisse champ libre pour tisser la toile rythmique de la musique jouée ici.
-Guillaume "Grisli" Belhomme,

He's a musician whose bass is confident in the foreground and whose compositions consistently merge strong musical ideas with forceful emotions. While he has already distinguished himself as a bassist, this is a striking debut as a bandleader for Hébert, the group's sound, empathy and collective identity all testifying to his focused originality.
-Stuart Broomer, AllAboutJazz-New York

Firehouse 12, the splendid recording studio and performance space in New Haven released several strong CDs in 2009 but none more impressive than Byzantine Monkey from bassist John Hébert. Three reed players (Michaël Attias, Tony Malaby and Adam Kolker) work alongside drummer Nasheet Waits and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi to bring Hébert's fascinating works to life. There's great rhythmic fire and interplay with melodies that draw on the bassist's familial home (Louisiana) and the influence of pianist Andrew Hill. But the music does not sound Cajun nor do the majority of the pieces sound like Hill—in fact, it's hard to pin down influences. So, don't. Let the music play and bask in the creativity.
-Richard Kamins, Step Tempest

One of the era's most gripping bassists puts reeds and flutes up front for a freebop session that stretches from ancient Cajun artifacts to abstract ballads lyrical enough to have fallen from Don Cherry's pen. What the pieces lack in compositional distinction, they make up for in textural richness. And atmosphere—mood means a lot to Hebert.
-Jim Macnie, Providence Phoenix

Hébert wrote all the tunes for this set, intricate compositions that often generate heated collective improvisations from this singular crew. Byzantine Monkey offers consistently stimulating music, played with knowledgeable abandon and beautifully recorded at the renowned Systems Two studio. Who could ask for anything more? Highest recommendation!
-Stuart Kremsky, Cadence

Debut Albums of 2009
-AllAboutJazz-New York

Best Album of the Year (#57)
-Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll

Top 10 of 2009
-Stuart Broomer, Village Voice

Top 10 of 2009
-David Hadju, Village Voice

Top 10 of 2009
-Robert Iannapollo, Village Voice

Top 10 of 2009
-Martin Johnson, Village Voice

Top 10 of 2009
-Jim Macnie, Village Voice

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