Guitarist Ben Monder and saxophonist Bill McHenry are no strangers to dedicated jazz fans. Both artists have a long recording history as leaders and as sidemen with several seasoned musicians, such as Paul Motian, Lee Konitz, Marc Johnson and Bill Frisell. Bloom is - with its perfect - possibly the most fully realized outing-to-date by these two creative gentlemen. The originality of this album may be best demonstrated by the fact that all forced jazz ingredients, such as up tempo swing tunes and well-known standards, are completely missing. And proudly so.
Bloom is a one-hour duo-experience which extends the jazz language and may be leaning more toward the usual music of Monder than McHenry, perhaps because of the original harmonies which Monder has developed for decades on his excellent releases for Arabesque Records. It is McHenry who, with occasional Joe Lovano influences, keeps the music within the jazz realm, while Monder's no-impediments distortion guitar can be identified closer to the styles of Yngvie Malmsteen or at least Jimi Hendrix. The track "Food Chain", is an interesting loop-oriented improvisation with the sax floating on top, which reminds of some Steve Reich compositions from the 60s.
Overall, one should expect nothing less from these two excellent musicians. Some of the compositions may be hard to remember, but they in turn express spontaneous and very intimate moods. This is a perfect album for all fans of new jazz as well as those who prefer a freer approach to composition.
Bloom by Ben Monder and Bill McHenry is available on iTunes and Amazon.com