Ben Monder

Doris Duke Impact Award, 2014

New York, NY

A musician in the New York area for more than 25 years, “guitarist’s guitarist” and composer Ben Monder has performed with a wide variety of artists, including Jack McDuff, Marc Johnson, Bill McHenry, Lee Konitz, Paul Motian, Guillermo Klein, and Maria Schneider. He has conducted clinics and workshops around the world, and served on the faculty of the New England Conservatory from 2002-05. Monder continues to perform original music internationally with his own quartet, trio, and in a duo project with vocalist Theo Bleckmann. His most recent compositions are unique in their complexity, unusual voicings, dissonance, and lyricism, and are written for trio with multiple voices. He has appeared on more than 140 albums as a sideman, and has released five as a leader: Hydra (Sunnyside, 2013), Oceana (Sunnyside, 2005), Excavation (Arabesque, 2000), Dust (Arabesque, 1997), and Flux (Songlines, 1995). In 2014, Monder will release a new album of solo/duo material, launch a new trio project, and release his second book of compositions.

  • Photo Credit: John Labbe
  • Ben Monder- “39” Excerpt II, Hydra (Sunnyside, 2013):
    “39” Excerpt II, Hydra (Sunnyside, 2013)
  • Ben Monder- “Hydra” Excerpt II Hydra (Sunnyside, 2013):
    “Hydra” Excerpt II Hydra (Sunnyside, 2013)
  • Photo Credit: Ralph Gibson

Artistically, what do you do & why do you do it?

I am a guitarist and composer. The musical vision I try to realize is informed by the many influences I have had in my life as a listener and performer, the predominant of these being jazz, 20th/21st century classical, and rock music. While I have studied the languages of jazz and classical music deeply, I try to write from an intuitive place, and I feel a work is successful only if it resonates with me emotionally. I am attracted to a certain amount of complexity and dissonance, but I also highly value the quality of lyricism, and it is probably for this reason that I favor the voice to be my main melodic instrument.

The reason I am a musician is that I would like to create something that does not yet exist but that I feel should. If I could provide an attentive listener with the same kinds of profound experiences that I have had with some of my favorite pieces and performances, I would feel as if my pursuit has been worthwhile.