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Aaron Shragge & Ben Monder: This World of Dew

Dan McClenaghan By

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This World of Dew is the third recorded go-around by trumpeter Aaron Shragge and guitarist Ben Monder. Shragge expands the expected pallette of the duo sound with his use of the shakuhachi (Japanese flute) and his Dragon Mouth Trumpet, a custom microtonal instrument designed to expand the melodic capacity of the horn.

Monder received an exposure boost via his work in the Maria Schneider Orchestra and his stellar contribution to Concert in the Garden (Artist Share, 2004). In addition, he has released several fine albums under his name, including, for ECM Records, the oddly beautiful Amorphea (2015), that featured, on one of his last recordings, drummer Paul Motian.

The blend of trumpet/guitar is—no surprise considering the two musicians—otherworldly and gorgeous, meditative with a spiritual ebb and flow. The music—all from Shragge's pen—celebrates the works of poets Kobahashi Issa, Masuo Basho, Li Po, Nisiyama Soin and, surprisingly, given the company he joins, California's working poor poet laureate, Charles Bukowski.

The disc opens with a Bukowski nod, "Companion." Monder shimmers and glows behind Shragge's pastoral, flute-like melody, giving off more reflective beauty than one might expect to be inspired by Bukowski's' often gritty prose.

Tracks 2 through 7 are the "This World of Dew Suite." Shragge, taking his inspiration from poet Kobayashi Issa's grief at the death of his young daughter, includes the angry mourning of "Rain and Mud," the bone deep sadness of "A Tiny Boat," and the anguish of the suite's—and the album's—title tune, that gives way to the unalloyed beauty and a perhaps hopeful vibe of "There Is Always One You Can Follow."

"The Sun Coming Down" closes the disc on a ruminative, hopeful note, another tip of the hat to Bukowski. And here's wondering what the Long Beach Bard, a classical music aficionado, would think of this simple, unadorned—as compact and pretty as a boutonniere—four minute flower bud of a tune.

Track Listing: Companion; This World of Dew Suite: By Rain and Mud; A Tiny Boat; This World of Dew; There is Always One You Follow; Stink Worm; Pretending Wisdom. Roll the Dice; Nothing in the Cry; It's Ours; Old Dust; Settling; Blue Bird; Sun Coming Down.

Personnel: Aaron Shragge: Dragon Mouth Trumpet, flugelhorn, shakuhachi; Ben Monder: guitar.

Title: This World of Dew | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Human Resource

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