333

Ben Monder On the Side: Brian Charette & Mika Pohjola

By

Sign in to view read count








Brian Charette

Upside

SteepleChase

2009


Mika Pohjola

Northern Sunrise

BlueMusicGroup

2009


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 tracks "Silicone Doll," "Look Elsewhere," "Public Transportation" and "Girls." And there are many delights here. Charette's own sure-handed way on the B3 Hammond melds well with Monder's musings while drummer Jochen Rueckert strikes hot. Charette is a player to watch, at home on such stalwarts as Carl Fischer's "You've Changed" and Billy Strayhorn's "Upper Manhattan Medical Group" as on his own adventuring pieces. And everything pops and swings energetically on Andy LaVerne's upbeat title track and sums up nicely by all parties on the final "Wish List." One wonders why Charette hasn't debuted on a major label with his fluid and lucid originals and spot-on musicianship before now.

Northern Sunrise from pianist/composer Mika Pohjola is in a different mood and mode from the Charette outing but these airy, arty and atmospheric renderings seem tailor-made for Monder's guitar and aesthetic sensibilities. The first tracks and some subsequent ones elicit some lovely guitar lines but it's all too brief. If you're a devoted or budding Monder-ite (or soon to become one) you might wish he'd get more solo action here. This recording was fashioned to put Pohjola's pianistic talents centerstage and what he does sparkles. But Monder, as well as the skillful saxophonist Steve Wilson, is consequently relegated more to the background than to the light. (When they get to step out a bit they sparkle.)

But this is Pohjola's show and that's not undeserved. His playing—displaying a classical bent, more than one might expect on a so-called 'jazz' recording—is beautiful and evocative. He's a conjurer of emotion as well as a possessor of technical expertise and he seems to get the effect for which he strives. There are occasionally some odd touches such as spacey sounds in "Late Global Hearing" and an atypical "Have You Met Miss Jones." The band, with Massimo Biolcati on bass, Mark Ferber on drums and Franco Pinna on bombo on one piece ("Blues Chacarera"), is fully supportive and able.

The musical selections, which include a charming version of Grieg's "Peasant Song" and Pohjola's "Passacaglia" reflect a penchant for the classical, as well as the introspective and formal. But a rendition of "Sweet and Lovely," with spirited contributions from Wilson and Monder, let in some welcome jazz feeling. As an ensemble piece, "Human Impact" soars with playful, ebullient spirit from everyone too. A calmer "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love" is an enjoyable way to wrap up this eclectic package.

Tracks and Personnel



Upside

Tracks: Yolk; Silicone Doll, Look Elsewhere; Public Transportation; You've Changed; Furthering Adventures; Altered Waltz; Girls; Prelude to a Kiss; Upper Manhattan Medical Group; Upside; Wish List.

Personnel: Brian Charette: B3 Hammond; Ben Monder: guitar; Jochen Ruckert; drums.



Northern Sunrise

Tracks: Northern Sunrise; Early Global Hearing; Blues Chacarera; Ebb & Flow; Old Manhattan Tango; Peasant's Song; Sweet and Lovely; Intermediate Global Hearing; Passacaglia; Have You Met Miss Jones; New Halling; Human Impact; Late Global Hearing; Duke Ellington's Sound of Love.

Personnel: Mika Pohjola: piano, compositions; Steve Wilson: saxophones; Ben Monder: guitar; Massimo Biolcati: bass; Mark Ferber: drums; Franco Pinna: bombo.

Shop

More Articles

Read Another Timbre’s Canadian Composers Series Multiple Reviews Another Timbre’s Canadian Composers Series
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2017
Read 440 Keys: A Batch of Piano Delights Multiple Reviews 440 Keys: A Batch of Piano Delights
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 21, 2017
Read Anat Cohen's Brazilian Bonanza: Outra Coisa and Rosa Dos Ventos Multiple Reviews Anat Cohen's Brazilian Bonanza: Outra Coisa and Rosa...
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 17, 2017
Read Duke Ellington on Storyville Records Multiple Reviews Duke Ellington on Storyville Records
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 20, 2017
Read Lee Morgan On Music Matters Multiple Reviews Lee Morgan On Music Matters
by Greg Simmons
Published: March 6, 2017
Read Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "New, Notable and Nearly Missed" Multiple Reviews New, Notable and Nearly Missed
by Phil Barnes
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "Duke Ellington on Storyville Records" Multiple Reviews Duke Ellington on Storyville Records
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon" Multiple Reviews 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio" Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "Pi Recordings 2016 Releases" Multiple Reviews Pi Recordings 2016 Releases
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…" Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!