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Aaron Shragge & Ben Monder: The Key Is in the Window

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This pairing defies expectations and avoids guitar-trumpet duet clichés as it delves deeper into that satori place in your brain. Guitarist Ben Monder’s use of echo and volume-pedal swells, along with his dissonant arpeggios and stretched chordal voicings, creates a spacious ambiance alongside Aaron Shragge’s plaintive tones on mesmerizing numbers like “Irate in Sight” and “Nastassiya,” the shakuhachi feature “Upper Roslyn Lookout” and the title track. The closest comparison would be Ralph Towner/Paolo Fresu or Bill Frisell/Cuong Vu, though this guitar-trumpet hookup is darker (“Mesopelagic Drift”), develops more patiently (“Choshi,” “A Trodden Way,” “Atman Breather”) and can be more affecting (the lyrical and heartwarming “Trust”). In terms of jazz-guitar lineage, to go from Eddie Lang/Bix Beiderbecke to Ruby Braff/George Barnes to this would require a major leap through the looking glass.

Originally Published