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Amanda Monaco 4: Intention

Amanda Monaco’s second outing as a leader is chock full of thoughtful, provocative compositions rendered with strong conviction and fueled by a sense of group discovery. The session is underscored by the agile, multi-directional drummer Jeff Davis and anchored by acoustic bassist Fraser Hollins. Principal composer Monaco is a cliché-free, inventive player who doesn’t neatly fit into any of the usual modes of contemporary jazz guitar playing (i.e., post-Metheny, post-Scofield, post-Frisell). Her deliberate yet delicate approach is more about drawing out the drama of her harmonically sophisticated pieces. No chops grandstanding here, though she is quite capable of creating a fretboard fracas, as on tenor saxophonist Jason Gillenwater’s free-boppish romp “Resolution Lift,” her own swinging “Deadlines Looming” or her frantic, dissonance-charged “Old Skool Flava.” But what registers beyond the notes is the heart conveyed in affecting pieces like the pensive title track, her moody Middle Eastern-flavored paean “Tel Aviv I Love Her” and her sweet ode to her 90-year-old grandfather, “My Man Stan.”

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