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Album Review

Free jazz tends to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it kinds of things, but when three musicians of this caliber get together to improvise, the results can sometimes be enough to convert even the most resistant straight-ahead jazz lover. This album, a mostly improvised trio performance by guitarist Ben Monder, pianist Chris Gestrin, and percussionist Dylan van der Schyff, offers some such moments, though there are also points at which you wish they'd quit yammering and get to the point. Two of the album's strongest tracks come near the beginning, with the ironically titled "Treacle" (which sounds sharp and bitter, and almost dodecaphonic) and the fascinating "#47" (which sounds like a Czerny etude as rewritten by Anton Webern). "Dark Engine" starts off with technically impressive harmonics before dissolving into a very dark (but not terribly interesting) sort of chaos, but things start to get interesting again with the prepared piano on "Treant" and, especially, "View from the Road." "Exrinsic" is a quiet but extremely busy piece and another album highlight, while the album's title track is contemplative and very lovely. Overall, this is an album well worth hearing and one that might be used selectively to show your more skeptical friends that free jazz isn't all a bunch of hideous noise and aimless noodling.

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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The Distance, Ben Monder
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