Aaron Shragge & Ben Monder

This World of Dew
Human Resources Records No #

By Ken Waxman

Like a nougat with a chocolate coating and crunchy but still sweet filling Aaron Shragge and Ben Monder have confected 14 tunes pieces that at first seem to consist of honeyed chamber jazz, but soon reveal chewy nourishment beneath the coating. Montreal-born Shragge who plays Dragon mouth trumpet, flugelhorn and shakuhachi and New York guitarist Monder don’t hesitate in coupling graceful tones with tough ringing textures.

Showpiece of the CD is the six-part title suite which allows Shragge to move among his instruments pushing harsh trumpet slurs and pile-driver guitars twangs to a shattering crescendo on “A Tiny Boat”, for instance, with a coda of string pitches than regular notes in the subsequent “This World of Dew”. “Pretending Wisdom” climaxes with brassy upsurges and slurred guitar fingering, while the sour suckling inflections of the shakuhachi define the introductory “By Rain and Mud”.

Elsewhere multi-instrumentalism and the guitarist’s equal proficiency at sentimental strums and twanging toughness means that tracks that initially appear sentimental reveal inner strength, as on “Roll the Dice”, where spidery strokes and expressive grace notes move the narrative from broken phasing to mellow harmonies. The penultimate “Blue Bird” is the most dissonant track where staccato string drones spiral in tandem with Sage’s circular breathing which suggests flutter tones from more than one horn. Like a candy bar some CD programs aren’t what they appear from the packaging. The real flavor is revealed after the insides are probed.

Track Listing: 1, Companion This World of Dew Suite: 2. By Rain and Mud 3. A Tiny Boat 4. This World of Dew 5. There is Always One You Follow 6. Stink Worm 7, Pretending Wisdom. 8. Roll the Dice 9. Nothing in the Cry 10. It's Ours 11. Old Dust 12. Settling 13. Blue Bird 14. Sun Coming Down.

Personnel: Aaron Shragge (Dragon Mouth trumpet, flugelhorn and shakuhachi); Ben Monder (guitar)