Monk on Viola

George Dumitriu

  • 1 Evidence (4:04)
  • 2 Round Midnight (8:15)
  • 3 Locomotive (3:15)
  • 4 Boo Boo’s Birthday (4:35)
  • 5 Four In One (4:34)
  • 6 Humph (6:11)
  • 7 Ask Me Now (4:39)
  • 8 Trinkle Tinkle (4:29)
  • 9 Crepuscule With Nellie (4:15)

Album Info

total playing time: 44:31

Recorded by Philip ten Brink, June 18 & 19, 2022
at Bimhuis, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Mixed by George Dumitriu, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Mastered by Gert van Hoof, Cochlea Studio, Berlaar, Belgium

All compositions by Thelonious Monk, © Thelonious Music Corp., Second Floor Music

Supported by Sena Muziekproductiefonds

Special thanks to Anya, Frank, Ivana, Pau, Kristijan, Henning, Meinrad, Gert and Philip


Liner notes:

Monk’s music having come into being in past moments of history is highly personal – a case of a special relationship of rhythm and melody. PLAYING it NOW is a question of personal absorption and re-creating it from the view of the other. That very search and imaginational moment can articulate and manifest itself more or less in the process of re-creation whereby the music appears defamiliarized in certain degrees. From this dialectics a new phenotype emerges showing the imprints of the genotype in a new bedding/context. It is here brought into unusual being by the viola-playing of multi-instrumentalist George Dumitriu. His viola playing and Monk’s music have steadily grown towards each other over a longer period to finally manifest itself matured on this solo-album.

It was, in Dumitriu’s words, quite an experience: “Monk’s music is so strong and so well made that even when making it very abstract, the essence is still there. Like a lifebuoy that keeps floating. There are many deep layers of details in Monk’s language and music. The more into details I went, the more everything made sense altogether. There is a perfect architectural balance in each of his pieces and they are all very well crafted into detail. Also each of the pieces seems to have one key motive which is like a motto or secret code of the tune – usually sounding very hip, having a specific interval or voicing. Most of the times the melody is enough to guide through the solo part if I’d think in a jazz way. More important than the chords. And this is also what Monk was asking his band members to follow.”

In the nine chosen Monk-pieces Dumitriu uses bowing noises, multi-phonics, flowing transitions, percussive effects. Thereby he passes through micro-tonalities producing overlays, multi-instrumental/orchestral effects and polyrhythms. The de-familiarization turns out productive and enlightening after short initial disorientation. Time and time again, it’s captivating how the Monk-gestalt emerges, configures and shines out. Wonderment increases while Dumitriu draws the listener more and more into this kind of virtuosic and playful finding and showing, arriving at the apt locus, which then appears ‘of its own accord’.

Henning Bolte, August 2022, Amsterdam

design: lysander le coultre (strangelove creatives)
photography: monique besten
evil rabbit records is a member of


  • Vid Jeraj, 26 may 2023, XXII Century Musicx

    Thelonious Monk's music belongs to the early postmodernist lineage of American culture that flared its wit beyond the piano language, choosing not to compete with the classical concert techniques. It developed and established its own language instead, coalescing with the nerdy statements of be-bop.

    Decades later, it's not surprising that the monkism's torchbearers are the saxophone and guitar players, but it does make a difference when the ante is upped by a viola. Such is an example of an Amsterdam-based Romanian guitarist and violinist, George Dumitriu, who assembles the unstrung phraseology of viola either bowed, plucked or laid tabletop.

    A fatty instrument, perceived by its stringy nuanced kinship to tenor-saxophone, is rarely played in jazz and improv. And yet, the thematic universe of Monk's tunes delivers its earbug charm to the swinging character that Dumitriu approaches with almost forensic brilliance.

  • Ken Vos, 9 july 2023, jazzism

    Thelonious Monk is een van de meest vruchtbare bronnen voor improvisatoren en jazzmusici, en dat zal voorlopig niet veranderen. Zijn composities, maar ook zijn wijze van improviseren hebben een onweerstaanbare combinatie van suggestie van asymmetrie en heldere logica in zich. De Roemeens-Nederlandse Dumitriu behoort op zich al tot een van de meest avontuurlijke en creatieve impromuzikanten op gitaar en altviool, maar zijn deconstructies van negen Monk-composities zullen ook een breder publiek aanspreken. Op dit solo-album onttrekt hij telkens kenmerkende elementen van een compositie om die uit te bouwen zonder direct aan het hele thema refereren. Vaak werkt dat vervreemdend, maar dat proces van deconstructie is op zich al een verkenningstocht die soms vlak langs het bekende scheert of juist vrij ver van het herkenbare af kan staan. Een voorbeeld van de eerste werkwijze is zijn bewerking van Evidence, het eerste stuk, waarin vrij gauw elementen van het thema op hun plaats vallen. Een voorbeeld van het zo lang mogelijk handhaven van de abstractie en de afstand tot het thema is Round Midnight waarbij via zachte noise-soundscapes tergend langzaam naar de bekende sequenties toe gewerkt wordt. Daarnaast weet de altviolist in zijn eentje nog frases zodanig te stapelen dat het soms lijkt of je naar improvisaties van verschillende musici achter elkaar zit te luisteren. Niet alleen intrigerend, maar ook reuze spannend.

    Ken Vos, 9 july 2023, jazzism

  • Ken Waxman, june 2023, theWholeNote

    While interpretations of Thelonious Monk classics are nothing new, especially as his stature has grown among conventional and conservative players since his 1982 death, performances of these nine melodies on solo viola is almost certainly unique. But that’s exactly what Romanian-born GeorgeDumitriu, who now teaches in Utrecht, has done with Monk on Viola (Evil Rabbit ERR 36 While his playing encompasses microtones
    and repetition, and his instrument includes preparations, the dominant approach involves deftly reconstituting the pieces so that
    familiar themes are present along with original variations. This is aptly
    displayed on ‘Round Midnight, Monk’s best-known composition,
    which begins with woody slaps, and angled string sawing until a
    twanging variant of the melody is heard and recognized at the same
    time as it’s pinched and descends the scale. The concluding
    Crepuscule with Nellie gets a similar treatment, vibrating in and out
    of tempo as adagio rubs and spiccato slides change places, culmin-
    ating in an exciting col legno finale. Analogous strategies are exhibited on the other seven tracks. Boo Boo’s Birthday almost becomes a simple country dance tune, then in a reversal deploys and fragments the theme with high-pitched, multi-string changes. Double stops finally become a jagged stroke representation of the melody. More traditionally Trinkle Tinkle begins and ends stating and recapping the head, with an initial high-pitched race up the scale sliding from presto to moderato and repeating melody variants as it descends. Fractured enough to be distinctive, this idiosyncratic program doesn’t subvert Monk’s purposeful body of works.

  • Guy Peters, may 2023, jazz&mo’

    De Roemeense componist en multi-instrumentalist George Dumitriu maakt intussen al even deel uit van de Amsterdamse muziekscene, waarin hij actief is met onder meer hedendaagse muziek, muziektheater en geïmproviseerde muziek. Zo is hij lid van het Kaja Draksler Octet en kon je hem al horen met veteranen als Ab Baars en Ig Henneman. De voorbije jaren werkte hij ook aan een Monk-programma op altviool, dat nu op cd beland is. Met de muziek van Monk waag je je sowieso op glad ijs, want het is verleidelijk om wat gemakzuchtig de excentrieke kwaliteiten van het jazzgenie nog te versterken of te blijven hangen in slaafs uitvoeren van die nog steeds ongeëvenaarde ontmoetingen van ritme en melodie. Niets van dat bij Dumitriu.

    Hij gaat vrij radicaal te werk, door enkele van de meest bekende Monk-composities totaal te ontmantelen of haast obsessief in te zoomen op kleine details. Dat levert een wonderlijk verhaal op; waarin hij zonder overmoed of aanstellerij toch een enorm bereik tentoon kan spreiden, terwijl hij de overbekende kernen behendig ontwijkt, alsof hij in de weer is met botsende magneten. Dat maakt de momenten van herkenning net zo heuglijk. 'Monk on Viola' is inventief en intimistisch, en bevat misschien wel de meest ontregelde “Round Midnight” in tijden. Nu eens neigend naar ontregelde fluisterfolk en dan weer kamermuziek à la Eyvind Kang, maar vooral toch George Dumitriu met een hyperpersoonlijke ode aan de grootste jazzcomponist naast Ellington en Mingus.

  • Peter Margasak, 1 may 2023, nowhere street

    There aren’t many composers in jazz (or any other tradition) that created pieces so instantly recognizable and connected to a single voice as Thelonious Monk. Naturally, a lot of people have performed and recorded his music, and despite a wide range of interpretive choices, technical competence, and taste level, his signature always seems to emerge clearly. But as widely performed as his music remains, it’s pretty hard to improve on his own recordings, where his bands revealed a dazzling internalization of his ideas. Both supporting Monk and in work outside of his band like reedists Steve Lacy and Charlie Rouse, and drummer Ben Riley routinely demonstrated a deep understanding and connection, while plenty of others who worked with him—whether John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Griffin, Art Blakey, or Milt Jackson—were certainly committed and original enough to lift his music higher even if they weren’t entirely immersed in its complexities.

    There’s a certainly a novelty factor in a collection of solo Monk readings performed on viola, but what makes Monk on Viola (Evil Rabbit) so gripping is how George Dumitriu imparts and expands the elliptical phrasing of the composer with such originality and effectiveness. In some ways his approach gets at a particular strain of Monk’s genius—the sense of play, the jaggedness, and the oblique lyricism—as well as anyone. I’ve encountered Dumitriu’s playing in the sublime octet of pianist Kaja Draksler as well as in the trio Black Sea Songs, but I’ve never been able to pick up the luscious grain of his sound and his razor-sharp sense to time so convincingly before. He applies all manner of extended techniques and effects, many connected to classical music far more than jazz-rooted improv, to nine indelible themes, frequently delaying and frustrating the exposition of a particular theme. “Round Midnight” opens with some masterful bow play, as the musician drops it across the bridge and allows it to bounce and skitter, before embracing an irregular rotation of light pressure arco, unpitched scrapes and scratches that transformed into high-pitched harmonics, spare pizz, and terse phrases that sneakily spell out gradually and finally build into something recognizable during the final two minutes. The performance is truly astonishing. Dumitriu manages similar feats, throughout, constantly toying with those themes in a way that celebrates their brilliance. The violist’s deep respect for Monk is made more profound by the way he fucks with the material than if he had played it straight.

  • Bruce Lee Gallanter, April 2023, DownTownMusicGallery

    Featuring George Dumitriu on solo viola, covering the songs of Thelonious Monk. I recall a period of time in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s when I listened to every Monk album that I bought in chronological to get a better idea of what was/is unique about Thelonious Monk as a pianist, composer and bandleader. I had become a Monk fanatic ever since, acquiring practically everything released under his name whether on legit labels (Prestige, Blue Note & Columbia) as well as illegit labels (too many to mention). Monk was one of the greatest composers in jazz, many of his songs are staples/standards amongst many jazz, ethnic and rock musicians. I am also fascinated by the way that other musicians have covered Monk’s songs, playing them in their own way. There have been a number of great cover records where bands or single musicians have covered Monk’s catalogue. Check out Hal Wilner’s ’That’s the Way I Feel Now’ (A&M, 1984) or Alex Von Schlippenbach’s ‘Monk’s Casino’ (Complete Works of Monk)(3 CD Set, Intakt, 2005) or Miles Okazaki’s ‘Works Volumes 1-6’ (for solo guitar, 6 CD Set - 2019). George Dumitriu hails from the Netherlands and has decided to challenge himself by performing 9 Monk songs for solo viola. This session was recorded at the Bimhuis (famed concert hall) in Amsterdam in June of 2022. I hadn’t heard much from Mr. Dimitriu before now, although has recorded with Ab Baars, Ig Henneman and Kaja Draksler. The viola is not the most popular of string instruments and hence, viola concertos are relatively rare. Dumitriu starts off with “Evidence”, playing the theme or melody at the beginning before he takes off, improvising around the theme. Monk had a unique way of placing notes together in ways that made them sound out-of-tune or bent into an odd shape. Dumitriu seems to favor these bent notes, bring them to life in a similar way to fellow violist Mat Maneri. “Round Midnight” is arguably Monk’s most popular (and covered) song. Dumitriu plays this song very quietly, rubbing the strings delicately, plucking a bit more abruptly later in the song and just hinting at the melody until he plays the entire line once or twice late in his rendition. On “Locomotive”, it sounds as if those bent notes (harmonies) are pushed into the front, seesawing and keeping us all off balance in a rhythmic sense. I like the way Dumitriu takes the melody on “Boo Boo’s Birthday” (nickname for Monk’s daughter) and twists it, adding a series of spiraling lines and then playing around the melody with fragments. I often had the feeling that Monk had a sly sense of humor within his songs and solos. On “Four in One”, states the theme and then he keeps pushing it further and further out, hinting at a “Jack in the Box” fragment in between extrapolations. “Humph” is an early, rarely covered Monk song that was released as a 78 rpm, 10” in 1949. I can’t recall hearing this song before now but I do like the way it is played here, the theme not pushed too far, the jubilant melody at the center and stretched out modestly. Dumitriu’s playing often has a sad or solemn sad in the way he caresses those melodies. It does take some patience to work our way through the way George Dumitriu plays and alters these songs, always adding some unexpected notes or twists to what we think will occur or evolve. The more I get used to his approach, the more I like and understand what he is doing. A true unique endeavor the many other Monk tribute recordings.

  • Karl Ackermann, 3 April 2023, Allaboutjazz

    In an NPR interview, avant-garde composer Volker Bertelmann—who wrote the soundtrack All Quiet on the Western Front (Netflix, 2022)—talked about re-imagining music, saying: "You don't have to paint the river to express something about the river." That attitude applies to George Dumitriu's Monk on Viola, an unusually inventive reading of Thelonious Monk's work. The Romanian multi-instrumentalist and composer holds several international prizes and he has worked with Benny Golson, Ambrose Akinmusire, Michael Moore, the National Opera & Ballet Amsterdam, and many others. A virtuoso on violin, viola, and guitar, the Amsterdam-based artist led the group, Dumitrio on two albums, played in the Kaja Draksler Octet and quintet, and has co-led an eclectic mix of Eastern European hybrid recordings. On Monk on Viola, Dumitriu's first solo release, he interprets nine of the legend's best-known compositions.

    Monk's unforgiving keyboard style was complex, with unconventional harmonic and rhythmic structures, dissonance, and angular melodies. Dumitriu's viola trades the more jarring aspects of Monk's music in mesmerizing ways. He approaches complicated compositions with a clear uncluttered style, but he does not avoid experimentation as on a barely recognizable "Round Midnight." Dumitriu's accentuation of aural waves and Eastern European folk influences bring a purposeful eccentricity to "Locomotive." He whirls through an energetic "Boo Boo's Birthday," and a peculiar take on "Crepuscule with Nellie" where he literally drags the piece across the viola's strings.

    Monk is the second-most-recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington but Dumitriu's boundless explorations reveal the depths of these pieces in a different way. Even the more jazz-oriented covers such as "Ask Me Now" offer a fresh analysis. In de-emphasizing complex mechanical rhythms and accentuating fluid phrasing, Dumitriu exposes the vital facets of Monk's role in the development of bebop and post-bop styles. Monk on Viola succeeds in offering an innovative look at some very familiar music.

  • Claude Colpaert, March 2023, Revue & Corrigée 135

    Les thèmes de Thelonious Monk ne supportent pas d’etre relus littéralement – à supposer que ce soit possible. Plusieurs jazzmen s’y sont cassé les dents. Seul musicien associé au be-bop qui ait eu les faveurs de ce défenseur rétrograde du swing qu’était Hugues Panasssié, le pianiste originaire de Rocky Mount était finalement un musicien hors catégories, un solitaire. C’est pourquoi il sied bien åa ceux qui l’ont abordé en solo, par exemple aux saxophonistes soprano Steve Lacy et Sam Newsome.
    Professeur de violon et de guitare au Conservatoire d’Utrecht, joueur de laptop à l’occasion, George Dumitriu a côtoyé à Amsterdam l’altiste Ig Henneman et s’est mis lui aussi au violon alto. On peut lire ceci dans l’interview accordé à Henning Bolte sur Citizenjazz en février 2023 : « Le travail sur les pièces de Monk commencé par la réalisation d’arrangements précis et de réductions de ses interprétations. J’ai tout fait à l’oreille, sans écrire les choses, à dessein. En expérimentent la façon de jouer sur ce morceaux, j’ai eu l’idée de déconstruire et de reconstruire librement les arrangements que je faisais. Parfois en explorant un motif thématique, en faisant un zoom complet. D’autres fois, j’esquissais une impression du morceau, sans les détails, en me concentrant sur l’énergie et l’intention. D’autres fois, je jouais troisou quatre morceaux e meme temps. J’ai essayé différentes manières de jouer chaque morceau, allant de jazz traditionnel à des méthodes très spécifiques ou abstraites. Finalement, j’ai réalisé que sans chercher à trop contrôler le style, le langage classique contemporain et les techniques étendues émergeraient naturellement et seraient le moyen de naviguer dans la musique de Monk ». Ce qui frappe dans les relectures de Dumitriu, c’est la richesse des timpres, la diversité des techniques (microtonalités, multiphoniques, coups d’archents) et la variété des angles d’approche, qui jouent parfois moins sur l’utilisation de l’espace entre les notes chère à Thelonious Monk que sue une continuité aux allures concertantes (« Four in One »), un découpage de « Locomotive » aux allures de marche funèbre, un renforcement des hésitations de « Boo Boo’s Birthday », qui se transforme en une sorte de gigue. Mais parmi les neuf titres, souvent reconnaissable d’entrée, le plus long (8’16) et le plus étonnant est sans doute ce « Round Midnight », qu’on dirait construit sur les ruines de notes et qui se révèle peu à peu, d’effleurements subtils en vibrations tremblées et émouvantes.

  • Mischa Andriessen, 14 March 2023, TROUW

    Regelrechte krachttoer van de in Nederland wonende en werkende Roemeense altviolist George Dumitriu. Hij waagde zich met groot succes aan het oevre van een van de meest oorspronkelijke componisten in de jazz: Thelonious Monk. In Dumitriu’s solobewerkingen is de hoekige ritmiek die Monk zo typeert volledig overeind gebleven. Hetzelfde geldt voor de karakteristieke humor. Doordat Dumitriu de voor piano geschreven stukken op altviool uitvoert, ontstaat er bovendien een heel interessant nieuw klankbeeld dat de muziek van Monk nog eigenzinniger maakt. Dat het hoorbaar geen sinecure is om deze stukken solo te spelen, zorgt voor nog meer spanning.

  • Henning Bolte, february 2023, Jazzthetik/ European Jazz Charts

    When thinking of Viola or Bratsch, composers as Morton Feldman or György Ligeti come to mind. Thelonius Monk is not the most obvious match. Dumitriu has changed it in fascinating ways and sheds a light on Monk’s depth of form and sense for essential detail to make music enthralling and living on. This album is about how the Monk substance emerge from the rich sonorities of the viola. Dumitriu achieve and illuminates it by playing with process and result in a dialectical way. Monk is maybe the most played jazz composer every night on this planet. Dumitriu contributes and gives us a recording that can repeatedly listened to with pleasureful astonishment night by night for a while.

  • Fred Bouchard, 22 february 2023, The New York City Jazz Record

    We see him still—hunched improbably in a kiddie cart, decked in Sunday suit, shades and golf cap, poring over a score. Thelonious Sphere Monk, who died 41 years ago this month, still somehow widens his circle to inspire our puckered globe. Joining the ranks of monastic obsessives (Steve Lacy, Carmen McRae, Hal Willner) who continually refine Monk’s craggy nuggets are George Dumitriu—a Rumanian- born, Amsterdam-based guitarist, here on solo viola— and the inventive pianist Frank Carlberg, in focused meditations with drummer Francisco Mela and bassist John Hebert.
    On Monk on Viola, Dumitriu takes an austerely minimalist approach. Emphasizing repeated gestures and Bartokian techniques, he scratches out Zen koans col legno on a dour “Locomotive” and spins sprightly loops to celebrate “Boo Boo’s Birthday”, with a touch of “Jackie-ing”. Minor-second chords abound. High harmonics and snap-pizzicato weave into the galactic infinitudes of “Round Midnight” and bow- stutters off the bridge mix with glissandi on “Trinkle Tinkle”. More overtly ‘jazzy’ are “Four in One” (with its terminal squeaks), a lean, soulful read on “Ask Me Now”, and a gruff, syncopated “Humph”. Drama— pizz! gliss!—jolts the listener on “Crepuscule with Nellie”. Altogether, this is a singular—taxing but memorable—tribute, which mixes sad-clown whimsy with dashing virtuosity.

  • Jan Granlie, 5 january 2023, salt-peanuts

    Opp gjennom årene ert det gjort utallige versjoner av Thelonious Monks musikk. Det mest vellykkede prosjektet med å gjenskape Monks musikk er det kanskje Alexander von Schlippenbach og hans Monk’s Casino som har gjort, hvor de, både på konsert og plate, har tolket samtlige av Monks komposisjoner. Men å få Monk spilt på bratsj er en mer overraskende.
    Men det er hva den rumnenskfødte fiolinisten George Dimitriu gjør på denne innspillingen, fra det spennende, nederlandske selskapet No Rabbit.
    George Dumitriu er fiolinist og gitarist, som er bosatt i Amsterdam. Han er utdannet ved Bucharest National University of Music, og han har vunnet mer enn 15 nasjonale og internasjonale priser som klassisk fiolinist. Som jazzgitarist studerte han i Groningen, Nederland, New York og Konservatoriet i Amsterdam, hvor han også har forsket på live elektronikk. Som leder av DUMitRIO ga han ut albumene Proverbe (TryTone i 2017) og Future Nostalgia (FN01 2014). Det siste prosjektet til gruppen er videoserien soFar soNear, med gjesteartister.
    Han spiller internasjonalt med en rekke ensembler (Sanem Kalfa, Kaja Draksler Octet, Black Sea Songs, Alex Simu Quintet, Eve Risser og Blink String Quartet), og har samarbeidet med musikere som Ambrose Akinmusire, Theo Loevendie, Michel Godard, Ack van Rooyen, Michael Moore, Nationale Opera & Ballet Amsterdam og Brussels Jazz Orchetra.
    Soloprosjektet Monk on Viola gir oss et helt nytt innsyn i musikken til Monk. Og du skal kjenne musikken til pianolegenden relativt godt, for å gjenkjenne Dumitrius versjoner fra start. For her får vi ikke kopier av Monks musikk, men mye heller friere tolkninger, hvor Dimitrius improvisasjonskunster står i fremste rekke.
    Og de starter med den velkjente «Evidence», som svinger fint i Monks ånd, men med Dimitrius fantastiske bratsjspill som toneangivende. Og etter åpningen får vi «Round Midnight», «Locomotive», «Boo Boo’s Birthday», «Four in One», «Humph», «Ask me Now» og «Trinkle Tinkle», før han avslutter med «Crepuscule With Nellie».
    For oss som er mer enn middels interessert i Thelonious Monks musikk er dette en ny oppdagelse. Vi må faktisk sitte litt ytterst på stolen og konsentrere oss, for å kjenne igjen melodiene. Særlig gjelder det i Monks mest kjente komposisjon, «Round Midnight», som her får en improvisert og nydelig innpakking fra bratsjisten.
    Albumet er innspilt i Bimhuis den 18. og 19. juni i 2022, og både utvalg av låter, som er en spennende kombinasjon av kjente og ikke fult så kjente Monk-komposisjoner, og Dimitrius utsøkte bratsjspill gjør dette til en spennende og vakker plate, som bør kunne sette ut de fleste «eksperter» i en «Blindfold»-test.
    I de fleste tilfeller, når noen aksl spille Monk, så får vi temaene først, før de improviserer rundt disse. Men her gjøres det omvendt. Vi får improvisasjoner i starten, før Dimitriu nærmer seg temaene på sin helt særegne måte, før vi får temaene, enten slik Monk har skrevet dem, eller bare små utdrag og tilnærminger, før han igjen beveger seg bort fra temaene og inn i improvisasjonene igjen.
    Med denne platen har George Dimitriu satt et solid stempel i Monk-tolknings-historien. Han er en glimrende bratsjist, som innimellom gjør Monk til noe som nærmest kan tolkes som norske folkemusikk, før han går ut til venstra og gir oss nydelige tolkninger.

    Jeg er overbevist om at salige Monk ville ha elsket denne musikken!

  • Herman te Loo, 19 december 2022, jazz flits nummer 388

    Er zijn in de loop der jaren al heel wat uitvoeringen van composities van Thelonious Monk in verrassende bezettingen en met ongebruikelijke instrumenten op de plaat vastgelegd. Ik vermoed dat solo-altviool in dat rijtje nog niet is langsgekomen. De Nederlandse Roemeen George Dumitriu doet het gewoon, op een album dat simpelweg ‘Monk on Viola’ heet. Voor de negen stukken die hij koos, nam hij telkens een andere aanpak. Het simpele thema-solo-themamodel komt daarbij niet aan de orde. Wel brengt hij door zijn interpretaties onvermoede kwaliteiten van het werk van Monk aan het licht. Zo klinken ‘Four in one’ en ‘Trinkle tinkle’ echt alsof ze voor een strijkinstrument bedacht zijn. De loopjes in het thema klinken volkomen naturel en zijn aanleiding tot typische (alt)viool-arpeggio’s. In ‘Locomotive’ horen we de trein langzaam op gang komen, en belanden we door de volksmuziekfiguren uit Dumitriu’s vaderland in een Roemeens boemeltje. Ook in ‘Boo boo’s birthday’ horen we Roemeense klanken in de herhalende figuren. ‘Round midnight’ opent met een duistere, geheimzinnige sfeer die past bij het middernachtelijk uur. Pas aan het eind komt het thema breekbaar, haast verlegen, om de hoek kijken. De meest thematische variatie horen we in ‘Ask me now’, waar de melancholieke klank van de altviool perfect blijkt te passen bij de bitterzoete melodie. In ‘Crespuscule with Nellie’ horen we goed de verschillende stemmen die het stuk bevat, en in ‘Humph’ het vraag-antwoord-model. ‘Evidence’, ten slotte, wordt een exposé over ritmiek en het laten vallen van stiltes. Het moge duidelijk zijn dat Dumitriu met ‘Monk On Viola’ een wezenlijke bijdrage heeft geleverd aan de rijke catalogus met Monk-interpretaties.

  • Dolf Mulder, December 2022, Vittal Weekly Number 1365 Week 50

    Romanian musician George Dumitriu (violin, viola, guitar) graduated from the Bucharest National University of Music. He continued his studies in Groningen, New York and Amsterdam, where he had been settled for several years. He played and recorded with several Amsterdam-based projects like Native Aliens Ensemble, Kaja Draksler Octet, Kaja Draksler Acropolis Quartet, etc. Last year Evil Rabbit released ‘Aforismen Aforisme Aforismes’, a quartet recording of Ab Baars, Ig Henneman, Pau Sola Masafrets and Dumitriu. With his trio Dumitrio (Mattia Magatelli, contrabass, electric bass; George Dumitriu, guitar, violin, viola; Kristijan Krajnčan, drums, cello), he released the albums Proverbe’(2017) and ‘Future Nostalgia’(2014). For his first solo album, he interprets nine compositions by one of his heroes: Thelonious Monk. We witness a passionate encounter and treatment by Dumitriu
    of the compositions from this jazz giant. He takes a free and adventurous route. Sometimes a theme is easily recognized, for example, on ‘Locomotive’, but at other moments he radically abstracts from the original. Just listen to his version of ‘Round midnight'. Nevertheless, aspects of the original compositions can always be identified in the spirited and adventurous performances by Dumitriu that are often edgy and sharp. Of course, the atmosphere is very different from how Monk played them with his quartet. But the way Dumitriu sheds new light on these compositions convinces and introduces you to a very engaged and capable performer and improviser.

  • Rigobert Dittmann, November / December 2022, Bad Alchemy 117

    GEORGE DUMITRIU, ein aus Rumänien stammender Bratscher (er kann auch Gitarre und Geige) in Amsterdam, lehrt zur Zeit am Konservatorium in Utrecht, nachdem er sich einen Namen gemacht hat mit DumiTrio, in Black Sea Songs mit der Sängerin Sanem Kalfa, im Kaja Draksler Octet und North Sea String Quartet oder mit Tijn Wybenga & AM.OK (Ams- terdam Modern Orkest). Vielseitig wäre dafür leicht untertrieben. Hier fiedelt er nun 'Monk on Viola', neun demonstrative Kabinettstücke von 'Evidence' und 'Round Midnight' bis 'Trinkle Tinkle' und 'Crepuscule with Nellie'. As Thelonius as can be, aber zugleich noch mit dem diskanten Pfiff von extented techniques und von extrem virtuosen Wetzen oder schillerndem Flageolettisieren, in denen sich NowJazz – denkt da nur an Mat Maneri – und Neue Musik gegenseitig anzuspornen scheinen. Für Monks Ecken, Kanten und Kapriolen ist das genau das Richtige, um deren unverwüstliche und pointierte Modernistik, mit kam- mermusikalischen Weihen versehen, hervorzukehren, mit allem 'Locomotive'-Drive und treppauf stürmendem 'Humph' und einem schäbig und rührend gebluesten 'Ask Me Now'.