Female jazz guitarists—female jazz musicians for that matter—are about as populous as politicians at an ethics convention; thus, a new woman on jazz guitar is something of an event, especially one who takes the larger portion of an abstract approach. The key to this CD may well be the obscure Jack Bruce tune, HCKHH Blues, which appeared among Bruce's first few now-forgotten solo slabs and has since been a curiosity even to Jack's fans, the solidest jazz the guy would ever attempt. However, it featured axe wizard John McLaughlin, and while listening to Monaco's release, you'll hear more than a few affinities to Sri Chinmoy's favorite son.
Monaco can range quite freely, as in the balladic Darn that Dream, but always harks back to interpretational obliqueness, even if only in very small ways. Sometimes it's just a matter of cutting a note short, others a strange chord tossed in, but her readings keep the listener on his/her toes. Elsewhere one catches snatches of McLaughlin's Devotion LP, but de-amped, even the My Goals Beyond period. This, of course, was, at that time, following on the period's explorations of wider meadows (give a listen to Ted Dunbar, John Stowell, etc.). Monaco, however, has affixed the sax as her contrast and thereby tempered the freer aspects more to Kirkian antecedents and such.
Amanda hasn't an ounce of ego in any of this, content to trade places with Michael Attias' excellent work on the horn or to gently peal out riffs and warps possessing considerable muscle for their solid intelligence. Many will, I suppose, drag in Emily Remler for comparison, but that will be, trust me, a bit inapt. Sure, the styles are the same, but Monaco completely disappears behind her work and that's her strength. Remler was forever out front—rightly so, given her speed and dexterities—but Monaco's a living, breathing, organic part of her music. This forces the audient to listen to every element in each cut rather than zero in on just her, an insistence disclosing her true powers as a writer-player and illustrating why she, among three male perfectionists (Gilad Hekselman here, Davy Moony here, and Peter Mazza here), holds her own very well indeed, thank you very much.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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