To borrow an idea from my friend Pete Fosco, monologue has physicality that demands your attention from the first notes Mai Sugimoto blows on her saxophone on the opening title track. Through the nine minutes of solo alto sax excursions, Sugimoto puts her whole being into this work. Falling back on a simple, hypnotic passage throughout, she absolutely soars into another plane, pushing the boundaries and ruminations further and further with each passing moment. It’s incredible how much power and emotion is behind each note. Throughout monologue, Sugimoto weaves an array of instruments and objects, from alto saxophone and flute to toy xylophone to shells, adding organic texture and life to these heartfelt compositions. Of course, her sax playing is the star. “So Trill” jumps and pauses, changing volume and timbre with ease like a shapeshifting ghost. On “Shell Ghosts,” we’re trembling and dragged across the beach as shells rattle and Sugimoto extracts fearful tones, longing for a different outcome. The intense, divergent emotions on monologue are a masterful reflection of what so many of us have been through this past year. Mai Sugimoto puts all of herself into monologue and the results are spectacular. What an incredible album.