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Tony Reif, the head of Songlines, conspired with Vancouver International Jazz Festival promoter Ken Pickering to organize a concert featuring invited guest guitarist Ben Monder playing in an improvised trio format with the established duo of percussionist Dylan van der Schyff and pianist Chris Gestrin. Van der Schyff and Gestrin have a history of playing together, but Monder was new to their musical axis. The concert was recorded and two trio improvisations from a rehearsal later that day were added to create The Distance.
Whether or not the trio clicked enough to regroup can only be answered by the participants, but musically, they share an obvious symbiotic rapport that could easily be fit for further investigation.
These three generate a abstract, ethereal, floating, open-ended sound world not far removed from the classic ECM sound. There is an undeniably Frisellian sheen to some of this, but Monder is an unapologetically cerebral player, and his explorations needn't maintain earthbound contact for sustenance, unlike Frisell's more traditional work. Gestrin's playing has an impressionistic but exploratory angle, occasionally using prepared piano techniques to extend his sound palette. Van der Schyff is quickly becoming a ubiquitous presence, and his colorful washes and interpolations demonstrate why he is so in demand lately.
The majority of the program is one of relaxed introspection and pastoral reflection, as demonstrated by the pensive call and response of the opening "Ferns." There are however, more varied and dynamic moments within. The lyrical title track is the most structurally precise tune, with hints of Paul Bley and Pat Metheny at its core. "Treacle" is frenzied without being overly noisy, all staccato runs and frenetic group interplay. "Extrinsic" brings a welcome bit of noise from Monder's distorted guitar and Gestrin's metallic prepared piano, but things really heat up on van der Schyff and Monder's burnout performance of "Dark Engine." Monder lets loose feedback-drenched sheets of sound and van der Schyff follows suit for an electric meltdown that is as exhilarating as the pastoral beauty of "#47" is serene.
Whether or not The Distance spurs on a new working relationship between these three players, this document exists to cherish.
Track Listing: Ferns; Treacle; #47; Dark Engine; Treant; View from the Road; Extrinsic; The Distance;
Voice in the Night; Second Approximation.
Personnel: Chris Gestrin: piano, prepared piano, bells; Ben Monder: electric guitar; Dylan van der Schyff: drums, percussion.
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock. It was love at first sight . This was when Blues, Soul / Gospel Style Music was becoming popular amongst kids as well as hip adults and featured Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner and The Payola era DJ's such as Alan Freed. Not many people remember that Freed's Rock n Roll Band of the 1950's was The Count Basie Orchestra featuring the Guy Singer Tony Bennett (Anthony DiBenedetto) who grew up in Astoria, NYNY right next to my Home Town Jackson Heights NYNY.
I was first exposed to jazz when I heard Red Prysock, Sam The Man Taylor & groups like the Chord Cats recording of Shaboom! It made the Crew Cuts look LAME! Now Jazz, Blues, Soul, Gospel was pretty much joined at the hip back then and I learned that the tasteful Music was featured on The African American Radio Stations which led me to DJ's Like The Bruce, Jocko Henderson, Tommy Dr. Jive Smalls and eventually Symphony Sid Torin, China Valles and Len Pace. This all took place during my high school years and the following years in NYNY and South Florida. I actually flew to Copenhagen Denmark in 1961 to see Stan Getz, (One of my top 3 heroes in the Music Bird, Pres & Getz not necessarily in that order). Sadly Getz had already left town and snuck back into NYNY where he played Birdland (Undoubtedly without a cabaret card due to smack addiction.) No problem for me as I worked for Pan American Airways at the time and enjoyed a 90% Employee Discount.
I met Thelonious Monk, Stan Kenton, Warne Marsh, Lenny Tristano, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Frank Foster, Dr. Lonnie Smith, among many others over the years.
The best show I ever attended was The Randall's Island Jazz Festival NYNY 1960. Monk & Edward Ellington Kennedy AKA Duke, starred among numerous others. I can not recall the entire Line Up but Monk brought along his Hat Collection which at the time contained I believe he told me 33 or 35 international Hats which he periodically changed often during his Solos. I have been unable to find that roster for that particular festival and since it was long ago I remember mostly Monk & Duke. Paul Gonsalvas played his legendary trademark twenty something chorus solo in between Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue which was outstanding.
The first jazz record I bought was Firstly, my Bro George was / is a Marine and he sent home his wax collection of LP's from Camp Pendleton CA before deploying to Okinawa in 1956 I think. Bird, Getz, Mulligan & Baker, Erroll Garner, Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Jazz at Newport 1956 and many more. I fell in love with Bird, Getz and Jeru & Chet for openers. Pres to my mind takes the all time Tenor Award and Budo, Piano etc.! However I digress Getz Long Island Sound and every other Getz record that I could find that was 1957 by then and I snuck in to Birdland for the First of many times before I was 18 ( Legal drinking age back then) It wasn't until just after my 18th Birthday that I was carded much to the bouncers chagrin as he recognized me as having being an established customer by then.
My advice to new listeners: Listen to the Music and keep it in the forefront not the background. A Local Band Leader whose name escapes me once said to me Jerry you can make time for the chicks later the Music is in the now and is more important than chicks ever will be. He was correct!
Next see live performances and introduce yourself to the Players most of whom will be respectful. Some, however, are unapproachable such as when I saw Miles so many times but his obvious disdain for certain fans was evident and he always walked off the stage after soloing. (Eddie Jefferson sang words to So What that so indicated this)!