Pianists Joe Bonner and Thelonious Monk were each born in Rocky Mount, NC, a not-so-interesting fact except that Bonner's thoughtful, decisive style has, perhaps coincidentally, been thought to resemble that of his justly more famous and influential townsman. Recorded in 1991 but not released until 2000, this album is an opportunity to hear Bonner's interpretations of Monk at length. It is a bold project, but not a new concept, and however accomplished Bonner is, he curiously reflects (at least directly) few of Monk's influences. Bonner is a more formal performer than Monk, less radical, to be sure, and more orchestral in approach. As a result, he is also less interesting. Bonner performs Monk's compositions almost reverentially, smoothing the edges, diminishing the quirkiness, and consequentially lessening their import. If Monk epitomized eccentricity, then Bonner stands for focused, organized convention, skilled and accurate. The melodies remain intact, the solos are true to the chords, but the offbeat personality is squeezed out, replaced by something a tad more conventional. Nonetheless, Bonner is a powerful, confident performer who attacks every piece with a singular approach. He is his own man, certainly no clone, but something of the original fiber is lost in his performances. Technically proficient, sometimes gloriously so, the underrated and underappreciated Bonner pumps hard, embossing his own exuberant, though somewhat polished, personality on virtually every tune. It is not precisely Monk, but who says it has to be?