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Lorin Benedict: News

Back from NYC... again - May 15, 2018

Hello again! This time I am writing just after a very successful trip to NYC in the early days of May, 2018. The primary purpose here was for me to participate in a recording session for drummer/composer Sam Ospovat's first album as a leader since moving to NYC. It featured the core group of Sam on drums and composition, Kim Cass on bass, and Matt Mitchell on piano. I joined on one tune, called Rancune, and two other tunes featured guitarist Brandon Seabrook and alto saxophonist Nick Lyons. I really think that the resulting recording will prove to be a very impressive and important contribution to contemporary music... and believe me, I know EXACTLY how pretentious this grandiose claim of mine sounds!! It's scheduled to be released in October, under the suggestive name "Ride Angles". After the session was done, I performed the very next day with two great NY-based saxophonists, Maria Grand and Caroline Davis, at the Downtown Music Gallery. This was good too, though I'd like another shot at it at some point. And then on the same brief trip I also hit a great jam session led by Michael Vitali in Brooklyn, and I had a great time sitting in on a brunch gig right around the corner from where I was staying with tenor player Kazemde George and bassist Dan Pappalardo. Whew! In other news, I just completed a recording session back here in CA in support of an upcoming album involving (only!) the duo of myself and vocalist Ron Heglin. Though we both feel that the latter selections we recorded were rather beneath our expectations, I am hopeful that enough good material was recorded for us to make a decent ~ 35 minute album out of it. We'll see.

What's New(s) - December 26, 2017

Well, I thought I was going to contribute posts in this section fairly frequently, but here I am nearly FOUR YEARS after my last post of this type... anyway. Many things have happened recently about which I am quite happy: 1. I've struck up a duo with vocalist Ron Heglin which is bearing some very interesting fruit, 2. I've moved EVER SO SLIGHTLY into the realm of SOMETIMES using (actual) words, through my collaborations with both Ramon & Jessica's Gertrude Stein project and very recent 8-voice ensemble works led by Pamela Z and Amy X Neuburg. And last but certainly far from least, 3. I just returned from a great trip to NYC, where I performed in a group led by Ches Smith, also containing Stephan Crump, Jonathan Finlayson, and Matt Mitchell. This went far better than I expected it to go, frankly, given that I don't play with such people generally. Oh, and also: A little more than a year ago, I played in duo format with one of my current contemporary heroes, Louis Cole!! But back to the Ches Smith hit... I can see that my recent work with Ron Heglin, which is situated entirely within the open-improvisation arena, has helped to strengthen parts of my musical self which often lie dormant in more traditional "straight-ahead" settings; and this indeed works decidedly in my favor when I am presented with musical environments where indeterminacy plays a substantial role, as was the case in key PARTS of the aforementioned NYC gig with Smith et al. In the future, I plan to nurture these tendencies further, while continuing to strengthen my improvisational skills when dealing with predetermined seed material. 

Gravity and Levity - January 27, 2014

Holy Jeezus!... hard to believe that it's been damned near a year since I've written anything here. But who cares? Nobody's reading it anyway. 2013 ended up being a year in which I was LEAST involved with music since my head-long involvement began 10 years prior... least involved, that is, as measured by the number of public engagements of a musical nature in which I was a planned participant. This is undoubtedly a result of me becoming more of a "home-body" and therefore not getting out much... which in turn resulted from: 1. Our two cats causing us to morph to their schedule (meaning EARLY to rise), 2. Me taking on yet more responsibilities in my non-musical (professional) life. Having written all of this, I HAVE been music-ing, however. Though I am painfully out of vocal shape at the time of this writing because I have a horrible cold, I think I can hear that my ideas in improvising over standard fare have improved slightly... more economical, slightly better groove, possibly better use of space. Now I just have to hit the shed again once my voice gets better. A few gigs stand out in my mind: The trio with Smith Dobson V and Kim Cass at Lungomare was SUPER fun (to hear a clip of that, head to the music section of this site under "stuff with Kim Cass"); my relatively recent hit with Sheldon Brown's Distant Intervals was a blast... looking forward to learning more densely chromatic melodies for our upcoming SF Jazz Center hit. And I'm proud to say that I am featured on the upcoming album from Beep!... my contribution to this definitely falls squarely into the "levity" category. And more levity may transpire as well, if my voice heals as expected. Anyway, I'm looking forward to my few upcoming gigs as well, which include another duo with Sam Ospovat in NYC, and a Holly Martins live recording at the Jazzschool over 2 consecutive nights in June. Later...

Speech melodies, Hollys Martin, and Erno Dohnanyi - April 1, 2013

It's 2013 (has been for three months now), and this year has brought several new musical things for me which are of significance. Firstly, I have recently been engaged by reedman/composer Sheldon Brown to participate in his excellent and far-reaching endeavor, Distant Intervals, which consists of Sheldon on saxophones and clarinets, Dave McNabb and John Finkbeiner on guitars, Michael Wilcox on fretless electric bass, Vijay Anderson on drums, and Andrew Joron on theremin (!) and poetry recitation. This group is largely focused on playing compositions built from melodies which are culled from recorded poetry recitations by Joron, Clark Coolidge, Philip Lamantia, et al. My job is to add my own "language" to the mix, while playing as accurately as I can these melodies, which are at once densely chromatic and highly "sensible". YUM! The first gig went really well, with Clark Coolidge participating, even! And there will be more. Secondly, the Holly Martins (myself, Eric Vogler, Kasey Knudsen) are hard at work devising a few more long-ish form structured improvisations for several upcoming performances. And last (but certainly MOST!!!), I have discovered, in a serious way, the absolutely fantastic AND HORRIBLY UNDERRATED chamber music of Erno Dohnanyi (aka, Ernst von Dohnanyi). This cat was a MOTHERFUCKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. For real. Many are familiar with his semi-celebrated Serenade for String Trio, and that piece is indeed worthy of (much more, even) attention... but don't sleep on the 3 String Quartets. OOOOOHHHHH YEAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

settling in... - October 13, 2012

We're settling in to our Oakland existence for real now. LOVE it here!!! Much has been gained by being in close proximity to the bulk of my musical collaborators. And speaking of one of them, drummer/percussionist Sam Ospovat and I have completed our duo recording, Passwords, which we've elected to release solely on bandcamp (this online music distribution site). The whole album of 7 tracks will sell for a mere $5. It features some originals (including some freely-improvised stuff), jazz standards, etc. We're releasing it on Nov.1, mostly because I made the licenses for the rights to the 3 standards we do start on Nov.1, for no good reason. But the website is already up, though not yet visible to all. As to other collaborators, The Holly Martins (Vogler,Knudsen,Benedict) have been hard at work on some new material, some of which we premiered at a recent show at the Jazzschool. We're set to do a few more gigs before the end of the year, one of which will feature us playing the music of SOMEONE ELSE. On the listening front, I've been completely obsessed recently with the late great MC Big Punisher (aka Big Pun); CHECK HIM OUT ON YOUTUBE NOW!!! Also from that same idiom, I'm realizing even more the magnitude of the genius of J. Dilla; I'm convinced that he will be viewed as the Mozart of our time, say, 100 years from now. And then I've been digging WAY into Franz Schubert. Endless!!!!!

in the hood! :) - March 3, 2012

We've made the move to Oakland!! I feel much more at home here, to be honest. Plus, most of my musical collaborators are within a couple miles of me now. Speaking of some of them: The Holly Martins (me, Kasey Knudsen, Eric Vogler) just did two stimulating stints at various colleges. The first was a many-hour performance/workshop at the Sonoma State university Jazz program, and the second was an afternoon performance/workshop followed by an evening concert at Willamette University in Salem, OR. Fun! Especially hanging in Eugene the night before and the day after. As for another east bay collaborator, I am excited to announce that my next recording project will be a duo album with drummer/percussionist Sam Ospovat. This as yet untitled opus will feature us doing original improvised stuff, longer structured pieces involving (I know... I said I never would) TEXT, and a few standards from the jazz continuum. We'll be recording in June or thereabouts. Also, Sam is about to release an album of his "solo" project, PIKI, in which I've participated on its first track, entitled "Tow-Away Zone". It's a pretty engaging piece that involves many other Bay Area improvisers (Jordan Glenn, Karl Evangelista, Phillip Greenlief, Michael Coleman, Lisa Mezzacappa, Mark Clifford, Jacob Zimmerman, Aram Shelton, Jim Ryan), plus... AN EGG-TIMER!!! Seriously. Anywho, looking forward to additional stimulating East Bay times :)

stuff, more same, and... - August 25, 2011

Hi folk(s)! Well, I have nothing of much significance to say, as I've been focusing a bit more on my non-musical endeavors of late. Nevertheless, I have managed to do a few stimulating gigs in the past few months. The Holly Martins played at the wonderful John Schott-curated Berkeley Arts Festival; Bleeding Vector played at the SIMM Series at the SF Musicians Union; and a new band in which I am a member played (twice!) at Bird and Beckett Books. What I've been mainly dealing with, however, in the musical realm, is working on voice-leading in the context of fairly traditional structures possessing a goodly amount of functional harmony... I hope that the recent entries in the Practice subsection of the Music section of this site bear this out.

And then I've been listening, of course! In this area, I've been particularly enamored with MC Breed, formerly of Flint, MI (and now, sadly, deceased as of 2008). And then also some of Franz Liszt's Sonetti Di Petrarca as played by Jorge Bolet- that second one is really killing me! Finally, Pluripotent, by pianist Corey Smythe!!!!!!! check that one out if you haven't already. Shit's deep.

nothing much... just a routine update - April 19, 2011

I haven't written on here in a while, so I thought I would do just that, so that all (one, none?) of you can read what I'm up to ("up to what I am"?). Recently, I took part in a couple of fun shows in which I was sort of a  "ringer": First was a guest appearance with trumpeter Anthony Coleman's big band. This also featured some VERY strong rappers/spoken word folks. I always like it when my scatting shtick is refracted against that of vocalists from the hip-hop arena; I've always considered what I do to be, functionally at least, closer to that than to "jazz singing". I wasn't on any tunes with the rappers, but it was interesting for me, just the same. And then not a week later, I was similarly featured as a guest with the Shotgun Wedding Ensemble as a part of their reinvestigation of the music of Cab Calloway. Here, I used an original recording (passed to me by Adam Theis) of Calloway as a jumping-off point... I tried to evoke the general tenor of his vibe while resolutely inflecting with MY vocal vehicle. So, two interesting experiences of me being a "guest".

And then drummer Sam Ospovat and I had one of our best gigs ever at the Actual Cafe, as part of Jacob Zimmerman's and Theo Padouvas' "Actual Jazz Series". I think we're beginning to figure out what works in our duo. Plus, we each did (for the first time in this setting) two SOLOs as well. Sam premiered a composed piece of his, while I attempted to scat the slow movement of the 5th Bach Cello Suite. Neither of us were satisfied with our respective solo efforts, though we were both glad that we got through them. And thanks so much to the trio of Ian Carey, Adam Shulman, and Bryan Bowman who played before us (for, it must be said, very little money). Until next time...

back home from NYC- whew! - December 6, 2010

I just returned from another "un-vacation" in New York... "un-" because I was working HARD on music the whole time. The first three days were almost exclusively spent at the home/studio of Malik Ameer (and his wife, Molly); we were putting the finishing touches on our upcoming duo release, home is where the house is. And you know, I have to say this: I think this album is probably the best thing I've ever been involved with- and that includes my non-musical endeavors as well. That said, I'd actually be surprised if anyone (and I mean this) besides me and Malik actually ends up liking it. Who knows? Maybe I'll be surprised. But at least I like it. Maybe it sounds silly to say this, but I think I'm so on board with it because it seems to exhibit a somewhat bigger picture than is normally found in my hopefully detailed, but often myopic work.

And then in the last night of the trip, I hit at the Downtown Music Gallery with vocalist Jen Shyu and percussionist Ches Smith. This was very fun, much like my earlier free-improv start with Jen and Oscar Noriega a few months back. The only thing that sucked was that I was dealing with head cold symptoms during it. I hate that. But musically, this might have been better for the group, because otherwise I could easily have surrendered to the temptation to be a friggin' grandstanding blow-hard.

Malik-Lorin duo album! - September 16, 2010

It's official... NYC-based rapper/writer/producer Malik Ameer (one of my longest-standing musical collaborators) and I will be releasing a duo album, entitled: home is where the house is. It will come out on Edgetone Records, probably sometime in early 2011. By the way, Edgetone is the label which put out the recent Holly Martins album as well (in 2010). Malik and I already have 9 tracks which we made together during three separate NYC trips of mine during 2009 and 2010. I'm now scheduled to make another trip in early December of this year to put some finishing touches on these tunes as well as to (maybe) make a couple more.

Three of these tunes are already posted in the Music section of this site. Stay tuned for the official release to hear the rest  :)

fun times in NYC - August 31, 2010

Last night I played 2 sets of music at Local 269 in Manhattan. First was a freely-improvised set with Jen Shyu and Oscar Noriega. I was kind of nervous about this at first, since I don't generally do free-ish stuff. But I think it went pretty well! It was HARD but FUN! The 2nd set was with The Holly Martins, and was one of our usual greatly rehearsed affairs. It went over well in general, but I was quite disappointed with my inaccuracies in a couple of places. But wow... so fun to play for a serious listening NY audience (during both sets, in fact)! I feel very lucky that it was like that, particularly since I don't live there.

Update on 7/20/10 - July 20, 2010

Just started this brand new website (officially sick of myspace now)! So what's new... hmm... well, I'm hard at work (or at least hard at procrastination) learning some new material for the Holly Martins NYC gig in August. Also, I just started up an entirely unofficial collaboration with electronic musician Tim Perkis- I'm pretty excited about this; he's the man, and I feel I can be completely unhinged and Lorin-ic in this setting... I might put some tracks up soon, we'll see. That's all for now!

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