Until now, bassist Chris Mondak has been impressing only live audiences. With his album debut, Glass Spheres, he hopes to connect with a wider audience. Mondak's life has been far from ordinary. He was born in Venezuela and raised in Illinois. While in high school, he was awarded Illinois All-State Musician three times and received numerous other honors. Later, he earned a Bachelor of Music degree at The New England Conservatory of music, where he studied with Dave Holland and Cecil McBee.
With Glass Spheres, Mondak shows his skills not only as a musician but as a composer as well. All of the songs are original pieces that showcase his diverse musical background. Some of his main bass influences are Charles Mingus, Ray Brown, and Jaco Pastorius, but he has obviously listened closely to many other musicians. The compositions included here feature a variety of jazz styles such as straight-ahead, ballads, blues, avant-garde, and even a touch of New Orleans. The album features Mondak on bass along with Hunter Smith on saxophone, Gabe Feldman on piano, Lindon McCarty on guitar and Chris Broomhead on drums.
Each of the musicians is in top form, and they clearly seem to be enjoying themselves here. The entire album was recorded in one day, so there is a palpable sense of spontaneity. There is an obvious chemistry in the band, and these guys can cook. It's all about the performance and they pull it off without a hitch.
Some of the songs on Glass Spheres, such as "Low" and "Brume," have a traditional jazz feel. Others, such as "The Only One" and "Oath Keeper" have a more contemporary sound. There is even an avant-garde number featured.
The level of musicianship is impressive. Mondak's bass and Broomhead's drums are solid throughout, and Mondak leaves plenty of room for each of the other players to shine. This is evident from the opening track. Some other standout performances are Smith's sax on "The Only One," Feldman's piano on "Brume," and McCarty's guitar work on "Juicy Red" and "Oath Keeper."
"Hats Off" is an excellent closing track that was inspired by graduation ceremonies, where students throw their mortar boards into the air. The sense of celebration comes across clearly in its upbeat tempo accentuated with some tasty New Orleans flavors.
Glass Spheres epitomizes coolness. Each of the players seem to be having a good time and it's easy for a listener to pick up on that vibe and get in on the fun.
Low; Oath Keeper; Brume; In Sleep; Juicy Red; The Only One; Hats Off.
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