A Big Big Band Sound With Jeff Benedict
Bruce Von Stiers
Saxophonist Jeff Benedict has played with greats such as Phil Woods and Dave Brubeck. He has recorded numerous albums, as the leader of a band and as a guest performer. At this point in time, Jeff has a band carrying his name and a new album.
The band is The Jeff Benedict Big Big Band. The album is called Holmes. The album has been released by Maroon Creek Music and distributed by Tapestry Records. It has eleven songs and a play time of seventy minutes. Jeff produced the album with David Caffey as conductor.
As a kind of throwback to the days of the big bands, this one has a bunch of musicians in it. Paul Romaine is on drums and Tim Emmons is on bass. On guitar is Dave Askren and Matt Harris is the band's pianist.
Big bands aren't anything without horns. Gerry Amoury plays the bass trombone. For the other trombones, there is Paul McKee, Otto Granillo and Jacques Voyemant. The trumpet players are Jeff Jarvis, Tom Tallman, Frank Rico and Steve Hawk.
As for the saxophones in the band, there is Ken Foerch, Charlie Richard, Jeff Ellwood and Adrian Williams. And, of course, Jeff Benedict on sax and leader of the band.
Of the eleven songs on the album, four were original compositions from members of the band. The other songs had arrangements done by Jeff Benedict except for the last one, which was arranger by Paul McKee.
Come On In! is the first song. It was composed by Dave Caffey and features Charlie Richard on baritone sax on Jeff Benedict on alto sax. The song has toe tapping beat. It kind of made me think of a film scene where someone is walking down the streets of Manhattan in the late ‘40's or early ‘50's.
The second song is Bitter Jug. Composed by Paul McKee, it features Matt Harris on piano and Paul McKee on trombone. This oh has a definite big band flair with some great trombone.
Then there is the Sting song, Seven Days. This one features Dave Askren on guitar and Jeff Ellwood on tenor sax. The band did a nice job with its rendition of the song.
In fourth position on the album is the title track, Holmes. It was composed by Jeff Benedict and features him on alto sax. The song also features Tom Tallman on trumpet, Paul McKee on trombone and Charlie Richard on baritone sax. It has a slight New Orleans flair with some cool big band riffs.
Dragging things down into to the blues a bit is the Rainger & Robin song Easy Living. It has Jeff Benedict on alto sax and Paul McKee on trombone.
The band takes a turn with the Paul Matheny song Jaco. Charlie Richard is on baritone sax, with the tenor sax done by Ken Foerch and Jeff Benedict on soprano sax. It was pretty well done.
Young And Fine, which is was originally done by Weather Report, has great piano from Matt and Jeff Benedict does well on alto sax.
That is followed by the Juan Tizol song Caravan. Originally recorded by Duke Ellington, the band does a great job with Paul Romaine featured on drums and Jeff Ellwood on tenor sax.
Then the band tries out the Michael Brecker song Delta City Blues. Jacques Voyemant is on trombone and Jeff Ellwood on tenor sax for this song. This is a cool song that has both fast and slow moments.
Jeff Benedict has a second composition on the album. It is Castle Creek Shuffle and features him on alto sax. Also featured on the song is Paul McKee on trombone and Dave Askren on guitar. This song definitely has a big band sound.
The album closes with a Coltrane classic, Naima. Jeff Jarvis plays trumpet on the song and Dave Askren is on guitar. I've always liked this song and the band does a swell job with their rendition of it.
The Jeff Benedict Big Big Band is one of those ensemble groups that gathers talented musicians from all over the country. From California to Chicago, Denver and even Washington, D.C., Jeff has put together some top notch talent. And that talent really shows through with this album. The renditions of classic jazz pieces are extremely well done and even the rendition of the Sting song was good. And the original compositions shine as much as the renditions. Holmes is definitely an album to check out.
You can purchase Holmes on amazon.com or CD Baby.
To learn more about the band, visit http://www.marooncreekmusic.com/ You can also keep up with Jeff Benedict on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/marooncreekmusic?ref=stream
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© 2015 Bruce E Von Stiers