Bill McHenry / Ben Monder


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Thematic, moody music can take on many manifestations, and in contemporary times be theorized in spontaneous means, inspired by events, objects, the seasons, and personal relationships. These duets between electric guitarist Ben Monder and tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry run the gamut of emotions from an introspective perspective, and while some moments have their degree of love mixed with confusion, this style of jazz is in the spontaneous modern creative sphere, based on specific experiences or images. Recorded in 2000, it took a decade to release these recordings (2010) for whatever reason, perhaps because they have to ruminate in the listener's mind more than one time. Not that they're impossible to grasp, but the elusive and evocative tones of this music without a rhythm section do take time to absorb. The clear, chilly imagery of "Ice Fields," "Winter," and the snappy "Crocodiles" is easy to understand via their titles; a piece such as "The Shadow Casts Its Object" or the title track has even darker, more ominous imagery. The buzzing sounds of the brief "Chiggers" and active "Heliogabalus" give McHenry more of a chance to chatter, while Monder's minimalist looped "Food Chain" is a challenging track in two and three beats superimposed that stands apart. Not your run-of-the-mill improvised project, it's a departure for both of these contemporary players, known for their neo-bop or fusion inclinations, and a good reason not to be trapped into pigeonholing either of them.

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