Ben Monder
photo by matt jorgen

Ben Monder studied music at the University of Miami and Queens College.

A musician in the New York area for over 20 years, he has performed with a variety of artists, including Jack McDuff, Marc Johnson, Lee Konitz, Paul Motian, George Garzone and Tim Berne. He has also appeared with the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, the Kenny Wheeler Large Ensemble, Guillermo Klein's Los Guachos, and is a regular member of the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra.

He has conducted clinics and workshops around the world, and has served for three years on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music in the Jazz and Improvisation department. Ben continues to perform original music internationally with his own quartet and trio. He has appeared on over 90 CDs as a sideman, and to date has released 3 CDs as a leader: Flux (Songlines,1995), Dust (Arabesque, 1997), and Excavation (Arabesque, 2000).


Ben studied music at Queens College and the University of Miami.

After returning to New York in 1984, he spent most of his time working with R&B and wedding bands and practicing jazz in his room. His big break came in 1986 when Jack McDuff called him (personally!) to join his band The Heatin' System for some extended road trips to the Midwest and West Coast. It was during this period that Ben developed an unprecedented tolerance for alchohol and had his first experience of being yelled at on the bandstand. He parted amenably from the McDuff aggregation (although Jack has departed this world still owing him $75 for the last gig) for an opportunity to perform in Vienna, home to many of his musical heroes, with a "fusion" unit. It was thrilling to solo over extended 1 chord vamps and eat wiener schnitzel, knowing that the ghosts of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert could be sitting just an arms length away!

He returned to the States a man of the world and, although it was 6 years before he would return to Europe to perform, began to play more and more "jazz gigs" around New York. A regular gig at the renowned club Augies proved important to his development, as well as providing free wine and chicken soup. However, his unothodox approach and sullen demeanor so alienated the perpetually besotted owner that after a year he was barred from ever playing there again, with ANYBODY. It was around this time that the Hasidic drummer/vocalist Yitzhak Bitton started calling him for duo gigs in a Crown Heights hotel basement. Some highlights from the next couple of years include a winter playing lifelike renditions of Louis Prima numbers, Italian Rhumbas, and Disco medleys 4 nights a week with a lounge band at the Glen Island Casino. Ben fondly remembers the high point of each night being his feature on Donna Summers "Bad Girl."

In 1990 or 91 he recorded the critically ambiguous Right Brain Patrol, a date led by the enigmatic yet diatonically leaning bassist, Marc Johnson. Subsequent tours led to greater visibility for the young Monder, yet the exposure to the constant anti-semitic diatribes of the percussionist proved stressful to his sensitive constitution. Anyway, our hero was soon fired.

Some other famous people hes played with are Paul Motian, Lee Konitz, Toots Theilemanns, and Dave Liebman. He has played on over 70 CDs as a sideman and has 3 of his own.


Monder\'s \"Hydra\" reviewed in JazzTimes!

Very nice review of \"Hydra\" in the Dec. 2013 issue of JazzTimes!

Evan Haga, JazzTimes - December 2013     Read the full article

Monder\'s \"Hydra\" reviewed in DownBeat!

Very nice review of Ben Monder\'s \"Hydra\" by Allen Morrison in DownBeat!

Allen Morrison, DOWNBEAT - January 2014     Read the full article

Review & Feature for Monder\'s \"Hydra\" in Jazziz!

Nice short feature by Bill Meredith and review by Shaun Brady in Jazziz!

Shaun Brady, JAZZIZ - January 2014     Read the full article


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