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Excavation

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Album Review

Guitarist Ben Monder packs this highly original album with a panoply of ideas. The dreamlike voice of Theo Bleckmann gives the music an almost medieval, spooky quality. The compositions couldn't be more modern, however. "Ellenville" and "Hatchet Face" are the album's epic statements, combining serious grooves with technically staggering ensemble passages, wordless vocalizing, and brilliant guitar playing. How Bleckmann manages to sing Monder's highly complex lines is a mystery. "Mistral" and "Windowpane" are built around dense, repeated arpeggio figures that spiral into patterns within patterns, creating a dizzying harmonic whirlpool. "Luteous Pangolin" and "Sunny Manitoba" are melodic and relatively straightforward; the latter gives Monder, bassist Skuli Sverrisson, and drummer Jim Black a chance to lay back and blow over chord changes. "Etching," an amorphous, atmospheric piece, features the album's only lyrics. Finally, "You Are My Sunshine" finds Monder on solo acoustic guitar, putting the famous children's song through its paces.Excavation contains some of the most unique, invigorating music released during the year 2000. ~ David R. Adler, Rovi

Biography

Born: 1962 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Guitarist Ben Monder has secured his place as one of most identifiable and sought-after stylists on the progressive jazz scene, an heir to the ethereal yet edgy approach of players such as John Abercrombie and Bill Frisell. Schooled at the University of Miami and Queens College, Monder has been active as a sideman since 1984, working with Jack McDuff, Marc Johnson, David Binney, Paul Motian, Lee Konitz, Toots Thielemans, and Maria Schneider, to name a few. He has also recorded and performed in groups...
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Excavation, Ben Monder
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