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April 2006

Chris Gestrin, Ben Monder, Dylan van der Schyff
The Distance
Songlines

Drummer Dylan van der Schyff seems to be in the middle of everything hip going on in Vancouver. In this loosely constructed trio with pianist Chris Gestrin and guitarist Ben Monder, van der Schyff exhibits a keen perception of tonal color, rhythmic and textural variety and improvised form. Much of the music has a vaguely defined pulse, a context in which the extravagantly imaginative drummer thrives. The music's intense, but like most of the free jazz I hear from the Pacific Northwest, it's an outdoorsy kind of intensity.

Pianist Gestrin is new to me. He can be wild and crazy, but mostly his playing here is bucolic and fairly consonant. He's got a nice touch. Guitarist Monder comes close to blowing me away. I don't love his default tone, but the man gets inside the music like few guitarists. He's got chops that he knows when and when not to use. I'm especially drawn to his push-me-pull-you relationship to van der Schyff. The two speak the same language, fluently and passionately. The more I listen to van der Schyff and his cronies, the more I'm impressed.

Originally published in April 2006
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