The brilliant German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach opens his new album Schlippenbach Plays Monk (Intakt) with a glassy, introspective free improvisation called “Reverence.” Schlippenbach enhances the selection of Thelonious Monk compositions with a series of brief improvised interludes and an epilogue that tie together or link his interpretations (if not let us hear his musical thinking between interpretations), while “Reverence” seems to set the tone from the outset. One might not expect a musician of Schlippenbach’s vaunted stature—he’s a key architect of and dominant presence in the history of European free jazz—and radical musicality to genuflect before another pianist, but Monk has long been a touchstone for his music; unlike latter waves of European free jazz players, this pianist was rooted in the music’s traditional roots, especially bebop.