Monkey House is a musical group founded by Don Breithaupt, a Canadian-born pianist, singer/songwriter, composer, arranger, producer and author. The group got its name from a 1970 book by Kurt Vonnegut.
The band formed in 1992, performing songs Breithaupt had written that seemed too jazzy or different for other bands to cover. A number of guest artists have contributed songs and have performed on their albums, including Drew Zingg, Elliott Randall, Michael Leonhart, and Jay Graydon. Steely Dan is one of Breithaupt’s biggest influences. The band makes melodic pop with a sophisticated, jazzy twist, with some horn arrangements.
Their debut album Welcome to the Club was released in 1992, on the Aquarius label, based in Canada. It included a cover of a song written by Donald Fagen of Steely Dan called “Lazy Nina”, which was covered by Greg Phillinganes in 1984, but never recorded by Fagen himself.
Their second album True Winter, on the Marigold label, released in 1998, found Breithaupt collaborating with Little Feat’s Richie Hayward and David Blamires of the Pat Metheny Group.
In 2005 the compilation album Big Money: Singles Remasters Rarities 1992-2005 was released. It contained thirteen tracks from the first two Monkey House albums, plus four fresh tracks including the single “Tough Love”. Guests included Kevin Breit (Norah Jones), Mark Kelso (Gino Vannelli), as well as Hayward and Blamires.
Their fourth album Headquarters was released in 2012, on the Alma record label, which is affiliated with the Universal Music Group. This album reached a wider audience, receiving positive reviews and airplay on jazz, pop, Adult Album Alternative, Adult Contemporary, and Smooth Jazz radio. Guest artists included Kim Mitchell, Rik Emmett, Drew Zingg and Michael Leonhart.
An album anthology entitled Retrospective was released in 2013, which includes almost everything Monkey House released over their first two decades. In addition to tunes from their first three albums, the 44-song anthology includes previously unreleased material like “I’m Not That Guy” from the Headquarters sessions, five instrumental tracks and some interviews.
A sixth album was released in June 2016, Left, on the Alma/Universal label. The title references the fact that Breithaupt packed up and moved from Toronto to the west coast, or “left coast”, arriving in the Los Angeles area by February 2013.
The core group of musicians on the album are drummer Mark Kelso, bassist Pat Kilbride, and guitarist Justin Abedin, with Breithaupt contributing on keyboards, and bassist Peter Cardinali guesting on one track. Besides Elliott Randall and Jay Graydon, other guests include backing vocalists David Blamires (Pat Metheny Group) Lucy Woodward (Snarky Puppy) on backing vocals, William Sperandei on trumpet, and saxophonist Donny McCaslin, Drew Zingg and Michael Leonhart also return to contribute solos. The album debuted at number 9 on the iTunes U.S. Jazz chart, number 2 on the iTunes Canada jazz chart, and peaked at Number 24 on the Billboard Jazz Albums Chart
Alma Records 2019
Tracks: 10,000 Hours, Nine O’Clock Friday, Shotgun, Welcome to the Rest of the World, Book of Liars, The Jazz Life (Featuring the Manhattan Transfer), I’ll Drive You Chill, Say It for the Last Time, When the Mud Men Come, Because You, Brainyard & Island Off the Coast of America.
Musicians to the Friday album: Monkey House and others.
Alma Records 2016
Tracks: My Top 10 List, When The Kid Comes Home, Good To Live, It’s Already Dark In New York, Tango By Yourself, Anyone, It Works For Me, Maybe None Of This Would Have Happened, What Exactly Is It That You Do All Day?, Death By Improvement & The Art Of Starting Over.
Musicians to the Left album: Monkey House and others.
GDM Records 2013
Tracks: I’m Not That Guy, Road Movie, Tough Love, Wanna Be, True Winter, Welcome to the Club [2005 Remix], The Difference Between New York and L.A., Maybe I Don’t Want to Know, North, Dear Stranger, Just Like Me, Mister Tragic, Big Money, Good Company, Subtitles, Come Out and Dance, Love’s Last Stand, We Never Knew Each Other, Across the Border, Blue Boulevard [2005 Remix], Memory Burns, Predictions for the Year 2000, Big Red Sun, You’re Not in Love, Where Love Comes From, Someday (We’ll Look Back On This and Laugh), Someone to See Me Through, Paradise Road, Same Night Different Music, A Matter of Moments, North (Reprise), Welcome to the Club [Album Mix], Blue Boulevard [Album Mix], Newbury Street, Five Spot, Another Time, 21st Century Gothic, Rhodium, Monkey House Interview 1, Monkey House Interview 2, Monkey House Interview 3, Monkey House Interview 4, Monkey House Interview 5 & Monkey House Interview 6.
Musicians to the Retrospective album: Monkey House and others.
Alma Records 2012
Tracks: Checkpoint Charlie,. Where’s Mantis Evar?, Faith in the Middle, Revolver, You on the Brain, The Thinking Man’s Me, I Could Do Without the Moonlight, Too Much Too Much, December Girls, Right About Now, Lebanon, The Man You Love to Hate, Emily Einstein & Second Avenue Subway.
Musicians to the Headquarters album: Monkey House and others.
Big Money: Singles Remasters Rarities 1992-2005
GDM Records 2005
Tracks: Road Movie (Extended), Tough Love (Previously Unreleased), North (Edit), Welcome To The Club (Remix), Maybe I Don’t Want To Know (Extended), Lazy Nina (Album), The Difference Between New York And L.A. (Previously Unreleased), Blue Boulevard (Remix), Wanna Be (Extended), Big Money (Edit), Come Out And Dance (Album), Good Company (Album), Mister Tragic (Previously Unreleased), Just Like Me (Album), Dear Stranger (Album), Subtitles (Previously Unreleased) & True Winter (Extended).
Musicians to the Big Money: Singles Remasters Rarities 1992-2005 album: Monkey House and others.
Koch Records 1998
Tracks: North, Good Company, Road Movie, True Winter, Someday (We´ll Look Back On This And Laugh), Dear Stranger, Memory Burns, Big Red Sun, Predictions For The Year 2000, Maybe I Don´t Want To Know, Wanne Be, Paradise Road, Across The Border, Where Love Comes From & North (Reprise).
Musicians to the True Water album: Monkey House and others.
Welcome To The Club
EMI Records 1992
Tracks: You´re Not In Love, Just Like Me, We Never Knew Each Other, Come Out And Dance, Lazy Nina, Big Money, Someone To See Me Through, Welcome To The Club, Love´s Last Stand, Same Night Different Music, A Matter Of Moments & Blue Boulevard.
Musicians to the Welcome To The Club album: Monkey House and others.