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Chris Monson: Seldom In The Wells

Dan McClenaghan By

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What jumps out of the speakers at the beginning of the spin of Seldom in the Well—the debut of Toronto-based guitarist Chris Monson—is the full, rich sound. Part of that is the deft rhythm-section pairing of guitar and piano; part of it is Monson's arrangements, and some of "the sound" can certainly be attributed to the production.

The line-up is the standard two-horn front-line sextet. Beginning with "Where The Leaf Has Been," the compositional vibe evokes Blue Note Records, in its mid 1960s days, circa the marvelous string of albums from saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock

The outward-looking, majestic opener gives way to a brooding "Distant, Solid, Figures." The tunes are all Monson originals. The arrangements are his, too. They are succinct and polished, filled with inspired solos all around, and—this is not always the case—the bass sound from Artie Roth comes through beautifully.

"The Passing Though" ups the octane level. Trumpeter Kevin Turcottee blows with a Freddie Hubbard brassiness, and pianist Anthony Panacci pounds out a grand, percussive statement on the eighty-eights.

Monson has prog-rock roots; but that isn't often obvious here. His compositional and arrangement skills are first rate, and his playing on "Reach.Reflect. Recoil." has a near flamenco feeling—a display on both counts that is refined all around, well beyond what is usually encountered in rock or pop music.

The disc closes with unabashed beauty, on the lilting "If We Dreamed Of Soaring," rounding out an impressive debut.

Track Listing: Where The Leaf Has Been; Distant. Solid. Figures; The Passing Through; Rippled And Collapse; The Rain Collector; Reach. Reflect. Recoil; Open Spaces; Highbrow On The Waterline; If We Dreamed Of Soaring.

Personnel: Kelly Jefferson: tenor sax; Kivin Turcotte: trumpet, flugelhorn; Anthony Panacci: piano; Chris Monsoon: guitar; Artie Roth: bass; Tom Rasky: drums.

Title: Seldom In The Wells | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

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