John Hérbert: Byzantine Monkey

NAME: John Hébert


TITLE: Byzantine Monkey




1. La Reine de la Salle (Odile Falcon)

2. Acrid Landscape (John Hébert)

3. Run for the Hills (Hébert)

4. Blind Pig (Hébert)

5. Ciao Monkey (Hébert)

6. Cajun Christmas (Hébert)

7. Fez (Hébert)

8. For A.H. (Hébert)

9. Fez Duet II (Hébert/Takeishi)

10. New Belly (Hébert)


All compostions by John Hébert (ASCAP) except La Reine de la Salle (traditional), which contains a sample of Odile Falcon (Arhoolie Records) (specific text “sample” permission text to come).


Byzantine Monkey:

John Hébert – bass

Tony Malaby – tenor and soprano saxophones

Michael Attias – alto and baritone saxophones

Nasheet Waits- drums

Satoshi Takeishi – percussion

Adam Kolker (tracks 2-4, 6, 8) – flute, alto flute, bass clarinet



Recorded May 27 and 28, 2008 at Systems Two Recording Studios, Brooklyn, NY.

Engineered by Mike Marciano.

Mixed and mastered by Nick Lloyd at Firehouse 12, New Haven, CT.

Illustration and design by Megan Craig.

Front cover inspired by original drawing by Mark Hébert.


Produced by John Hébert.

Co-produced by Taylor Ho Bynum and Nick Lloyd.


John Hébert plays and endorses Thomastik-Infeld strings.





“Who or what is Byzantine Monkey?”


According to my wife LoJen, “Byzantine Monkey is a thought process. First, imagine the type of music a Byzantine Monkey would write. What it would sound like? Whimsical, mysterious, a surreal juxtaposition of images and ideas. The mood and spirit of the composer himself.” I am the Byzantine Monkey.


Thanks to everyone who made this recording possible, especially Tony, Michael, Adam, Nasheet, and Satoshi for turning the notes on the page into music. And most importantly thanks to LoJen Yin, who not only came up with the band name but also inspired me to write music true to my byzantine monkey nature.




La Reine de La Salle: An old traditional Cajun Folk song. I am originally from Louisiana (hence my French last name, Hébert). I grew up eating Cajun food but listening to the music was something else. I found this tune in a documentary by the director Les Blank, J’ai été Au Bal (I Went to the Dance).


Acrid Landscape: Written while I was on tour with Adam Kolker in Europe, inspired by a drive through Naples, Italy, where there was a distinct burning smell in the air and everything was covered in a burnt sienna haze.


Run for the Hills: A mantra, preparing myself for the end of the world. (At the time, it certainly seemed the end was near.) The tune is in two parts: a slow chorale leading into a drum and bass duet, then the “running for the hills” section. At least now there is some hope; perhaps a slow crawl might be sufficient.


Blind Pig: Written a long time ago, during a somewhat solemn period in my life. Tony Malaby describes this tune as a “carousel in the rain,” but instead of horses, think of pigs. The title comes from a book that I was reading at the time by Jon A. Jackson.


Ciao Monkey: First recorded on a CD by Michael Attias’ band, Renku, with Satoshi and me. This tune really gives everyone a chance to just blow. The title came from an Italian vacation that I spent with my wife. Since she views me as her “monkey,” everytime we would greet one another it became, “Ciao, Monkey!”


Cajun Christmas: A simple melody written with the flute in mind. We were rehearsing it without a title until Malaby came up with the name. Another nod to my heritage.


Fez and Fez Duet: Another blowing tune, the groove is in 9/8 and the melody has a sort of middle-eastern tone. I had just returned from Turkey when I thought of the title; there were fezes on many heads.


For AH: This composition is dedicated to my dear friend and mentor, Andrew Hill. He will always be one of my biggest influences and heroes. I was an honor to be able to play this for him on piano just before he passed away.


New Belly: A mysterious ballad. It was originally just called “New Ballad,” until one night on a gig someone misheard me and thought the title was “New Belly.” It seemed appropriate; I am of that age where things tend to stick around the body more. Maybe this person was trying to tell me something. So the name and the belly stuck.