Half Notes: Aaron Shragge and Ben Monder – The Key Is In The Window (2011)

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Ben Monder is one of the more talked about guitarists in New York due to his impalpable, impressionistic approach that’s uncommon outside of Bill Frisell and has made him a favorite for progressive-minded leaders from Marc Johnson and Maria Schneider to Donny McCaslin and Guillermo Klein. He’s also been a fixture in Paul Motian’s groups, too. Trumpet and Shakuhachi flute player Aaron Shragge is less known then Monder, but he too doesn’t take the paths most chosen in performing jazz. In fact, this album co-led by both, The Key Is In The Window, is closer to New Age than jazz, by way of the North Indian and Japanese folk music that figure heavily into Shragge’s compositions. There might be some improvisation going on but the main attraction is the free flowing soundscapes they create which are often surprisingly rich and full bodied for coming from only these instruments. The album is best listened to as a singe piece, but the uber-soothing, Nordic sounding “Upper Roslyn Lookout” is my favorite passage of these ten tracks. The Key Is In The Window went on sale last January 25.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us. Visit Aaron Shragge’s website.

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