“Ben Monder is a very evolved kind of musician — great chord voicing and just excellent playing.”
“A lot of people play well, but what stops me is if somebody’s got a musical concept that’s different. Ben Monder is a jazz guitarist, but he’s not playing any bebop phrasing at all. He’s made an album that reflects wide musical thinking and ability, and incorporated music from other places to create his own world. He’s got a very good right hand.”
It’s tough to make the shift from vicious to ethereal, but for the last decade, guitarist Monder has refined his maneuvers to do just that, providing a personal (and very modern) definition of lyricism. From foot pedal freak-outs to dream-time dramas, he’s brought a solid footing to abstract experiments.
—Jim Macnie, Village Voice
Ben Monder has been justly praised as one of the most original guitarists of the 21st Century. He is not only a fearless improviser but also a smart accompanist. Monder can shred his way through a solo (like Nels Cline) and then land on the most melodic phrase. Monder’s creative guitar work continues to impress this listener – he never just plays but always makes rich contributions to the songs.
—Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant
“Monder has released four extraordinary solo projects, and has appeared on more than 100 recordings, and yet he remains tragically unsung—likely due to the sheer profundity of his harmonic concept. Whether weaving polyrhythmic arpeggios into dense and oddly compelling clusters (as on 2005’s Oceana), or exploring exploded blues figures (as on Marc Johnson’s Right Brain Patrol), Monder consistently takes his Ibanez AS50 and ’36 Martin into uncharted realms. ”
— BC, From Guitar Player magazine , 101 Forgotten Greats and Unsung Heroes, 2/07
“Monder has yet to establish the kind of name that he deserves with the larger listening public, but he’s in high demand amongst musicians in the know. A musical chameleon with almost matchless technical skill, he’s released four albums as a leader since 1995, the most recent being Oceana (Sunnyside, 2005), one of the year’s best and an album that combines detailed, long-form composition with inspired improvisational flights and, at times, a prog-rock attitude….Monder is a complex thinker, with a remarkable harmonic knowledge and distinctive approach to both writing and improvising that simply sound like no other guitarist. There are subtle hints of Frisell, especially in Monder’s pulling on the neck of his guitar to achieve slight pitch shifts, but if Frisell’s approach is skewed, then Monder’s is positively twisted. Sharp chordal attacks are interspersed with linear phrases that incorporate broad intervallic leaps, rapid-fire runs and dramatic flourishes that, despite their idiosyncratic nature, are clearly focused. Alternating between finger-picking and rapid flat-picking, Monder sounds like nobody else because, watching him play, his hands move on the guitar like no other.”
—John Kelman, All About Jazz, 4/07
“Ben Monder [has an] ability to create music that dazzles and delights with its impeccable craftsmanship, technical dexterity and way left-of-center originality. I was impressed by his textural command and skill at weaving seemingly elusive melodies and deviously contrapuntal lines into an intricate whole.”
—George Varga – San Diego Union-Tribune
“You know within about three seconds that something original is coming out of Ben Monder’s electric guitar — a whispering flow of harmonic challenges that fold backward, sideways and across dimensions like time-space origami…He’s like a magician who slows a trick down to ox-cart tempo, and you still can’t figure out how he did it.”
—Greg Burk – LA Weekly
“Ben Monder has played nearly unsurpassable jazz guitar with any number of actual jazz groups. But what he plays with his own group comes from another planet.”
—Ben Ratliff, NY Times
Nicknamed “Mind Bender” by his guitar-playing colleagues for his dazzling technical facility, Monder has been quietly astounding guitar fans in New York City for the past 10 years. His renegade approach to the instrument is marked by liquid single note lines, classically finger-picked arpeggios, and unorthodox chordal voicings. An adventurous player, Monder is particularly impressive in solo settings, where his fondness for dissonance and daring intervallic leaps, along with a penchant for weaving complex, contrapuntal lines and creating ambient moods and textures come to the fore.
– Bill Milkowski, Jazziz March 2005
…if you need to surrender your routine-weary mind to an alternate consciousness, Ben Monder is your best rejuvenatory bet…Monder is a multifaceted, multi-talented anomaly that mezmerizes with a rare depth of originality and focus.
– Dean Cotrill ,The Hour, Montreal
…Ben Monder delivered the evening’s most stunning displays of technical virtuosity and compositional daring,…spinning a web of hypnotic, rapid arpeggios with unerring accuracy for minutes on end.
– David Adler, All About Jazz
…his deeply personal musical vision, complete with staggering technique and rhythmic flexibility, allow him to maneuver in territory where most guitarists fear to tread.
– Rob Levit, Nebula Magazine