...Monear's breathy ideas leave lots of space, girding the music with exquisite tension.
... What gives the music personality is Monear's suave touch, relaxed swing, fresh melodic and harmonic turns and the unpretentious way he draws on familiar influences.
Review By: Mark Stryker, Free Press Music Critic, October 2006
…Cliff's cascading, instinctively right piano is always on the money, never intruding, but always bright and punctual in time and personal color shadings…
Review by: Michael G. Nastos - Veteran radio jazz host, WEMU-FM
Professional journalist for the Ann Arbor News, Cadence Magazine as Detroit correspondent, with supplemental credits in Coda, Downbeat, Jazz Times, Arts Midwest, Detroit Jazz Magazine
Cliff Monear is a facile and imaginative pianist, and he lets us know it from Bernie's Tune. the first track of his new CD, It's About Time. What's most striking about the CD, however, is the breadth of the compositions Monear chooses. There are offerings by jazz musicians e.g., Miles, Monk, Coltrane and Freddie Hubbard but also pop tunes like the 1933 hit, Temptation, (not the new Temptation recently recorded by Diana Krall but the old one played by the Michigan Marching Band). Other tunes on the CD range from Freedom Jazz Dance to Baubles, Bangles and Beads to All The Things You Are. Not a bad spread, what?
Monear and his bass player, Nick Calandro, play with great skill and feeling. There are three different drummers on the twelve tracks and their contributions are appropriate, their solos, quite thrilling. The CD's title refers to the variety of tempos employed by the group; they certainly do provide diversity.
A surprise addition to the tune list is Melancholy Serenade, the theme song of Jackie Gleason's TV show. Monear plays this with great tenderness, but I doubt that he is old enough to have enjoyed The Great One's TV antics.
This is a fine CD. It has a quality George Shearing's early small group records had: you can listen to it as serious and exciting jazz, but it also serves as good background music for parties or just a quiet evening.
Review by: Hazen Schumacher - Former host of the nationally syndicated Jazz Revisited radio program. Current Vice President of SEMJA.