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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ben Monder: Hydra

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New York-based guitarist Ben Monder has been an active member of the contemporary jazz scene for more than two decades, appearing on over 100 sessions as a sideman for such luminaries as Paul Motian, Maria Schneider and Kenny Wheeler. Despite such prestigious collaborations, Monder has maintained a relatively low profile as a solo artist, with less than half a dozen records as a leader or co-leader to his credit; Oceana, the last release under his own name, was issued by Sunnyside Records back in 2005.When left to his own devices, Monder unveils a singular penchant for juxtaposing progressive ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jerome Sabbagh / Ben Monder / Daniel Humair: I Will Follow You

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How do you cook up innovative and inspiring jazz these days? Take a standard quintet and peel away the bassist (time keeper), then eliminate the pianist or chordal steward, and you are left with maybe the purest form of improvisation and interaction: the jazz trio. Saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh's trinity, heard on I Will Follow You, includes guitarist Ben Monder and drummer Daniel Humair.Sabbagh is a French-born tenor/soprano saxophonist who now lives in Brooklyn. His previous discs--the standards sax/bass/drums trio of One Two Three (Bee Jazz, 2009) and quartet session with Monder, Pogo (Sunnyside, 2007)--have both been well-received, though ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ben Monder / Bill McHenry: Bloom

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The world of improvised music is a wondrous pursuit, but as soon as the word “composition" creeps into the proceedings, it can have a slightly stricter form. How much form begins to curb spontaneity is entirely up to the musicians. In the case of guitarist Ben Monder and saxophonist Bill McHenry's Bloom, thankfully, the form does not disturb the path of forward-thinking creativity. However, there is enough structure to the duo's music for it to have a strict beginning, middle and end. And although it is mostly Lydian in nature, these musicians have given themselves enough room to float, creating ...

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Ben Monder On the Side: Brian Charette & Mika Pohjola

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Brian CharetteUpsideSteepleChase2009 Mika PohjolaNorthern SunriseBlueMusicGroup2009 There's a reason why, at Ben Monder performances, the guitar geeks sit in the first row. He is an outstanding soloist, inventive improviser and composer of highly original and engaging works featured on several of his own recordings. Monder has also proven himself to be the consummate sideman. While Upside is a Brian Charette project, the 30-something organist allows Monder ample room, particularly on original ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theo Bleckmann & Ben Monder: At Night

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Theo Bleckmann (voice and live electronic processing) and Ben Monder (guitar) have played together in several settings. This time they return as a duo, with Satoshi Takeishi (drums, percussion and laptop) making a presence on five tracks.

There is a fine sense of balance on the recording. Both Monder and Bleckmann have a quirky sense of humor which is transmitted to their music. This is seen in the way they set up the instrumentation and bring in a new twist. They have their serious side manifested in the ethereal beauty that flows through the songs, which does not ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theo Bleckmann and Ben Monder: At Night

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The cover imagery depicts mesas viewed heavenward towards a threatening yet beckoning night sky. In the foreground, an empty highway envelops two empty stools for any brave two travelers on life's journey to perform an offering to the stars, to the universe, to all, to the night. If ever two musicians were up to the task, it's the flat-out astonishing virtuosi, vocalist Theo Bleckmann and guitarist Ben Monder.

Bleckmann possesses technique so colossal, yet so meticulous, he can seem otherworldly, an android-like embodiment of sci-fi vocalisms, a bodily vessel for that voice. Still, whether accompanied by actual words or not, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Theo Bleckmann/Ben Monder: At Night

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Experiencing the music of vocalist Theo Bleckmann and guitarist Ben Monder isn't so much listening as it is swimming.

Take, for instance, their cover of John Lennon and Paul McCartney's “Norwegian Wood." The Beatles' guiltless romp through sexuality opens with a tidal wave of fuzzy, over-amped guitar and vocal feedback. Bleckman begins, “I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me..." singing the lyrics from the bowels of a submarine, and this one isn't yellow. Monder's tidal wave of sound signals the innocence, Bleckmann calls out from a moonless night's pounding sea. ...



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