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Jazz Articles

CATCHING UP WITH

Ben Monder: Amorphous Music

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Ben Monder is a guitarist with a singular and influential voice. While he has received a great acclaim for his multifaceted work and unparalleled technical facility, Monder has also demonstrated remarkable breadth both as a bandleader and composer. His debut album for ECM Amorphae is a kind of a movie for one's ears. Amorphae consists of a set of beautiful compositions that orchestrate kind of sounds beyond the imagination. Monder's distinctive guitars create a wide range of colors, dynamics and ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Ben Monder: Amorphae

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Having made his first--and, up to now, only--appearance on Munich's lauded ECM Records on the late drummer Paul Motian's Garden of Eden (2006), it's certainly taken a long time for the virtuosically talented guitarist to get a date of his own. Monder's résumé--while filled with significant associations including, in addition to Motian, composer/bandleader Maria Schneider, double bassist and occasional ECM label mate Marc Johnson, saxophonist Donny McCaslin (with whom Monder will also appear on the upcoming Black Star by David ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ben Monder: Amorphae

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Veteran guitarist Ben Monder is at his most experimental and atmospheric in this collection of largely improvised performances, his sixth album as a leader, and his first for ECM. The genesis of the album came from Monder's 2010 duet sessions with Paul Motian, sadly abbreviated by the legendary drummer's passing. Motian fans can surely be forgiven for wishing there was more than the two tracks included. But one of them is the highlight of the album: the pair revisits Rodgers ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sunny Kim and Ben Monder: The Shining Sea: Live at Olympus Hall

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People who know me know that I am not particularly interested in jazz vocals or straight-up renditions of jazz standards. One of my hobbies is playing the drums, and I am also not really motivated to listen to music without drums or some sort of percussion. So, I put off reviewing The Shining Sea: Live at Olympus Hall a bit longer than usual, as it contains several jazz standards, a vocalist, and no rhythm section. Yet, I had really enjoyed ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

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. ...


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