Dear family, friends and colleagues,
I am way past due sending out an update on all things musical. Lots going on this spring and summer (!) but I thought I would focus on an upcoming event: The Ben Kono Group will be a featured ensemble at the Bryant Park New Music Festival on June 15th from 4:30-10pm. This concert features works commissioned by Chamber Music America and will be the closing concert of it's 2015 season. We will be performing our 2013 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works commission “Don't Blink” and I'm excited to be playing along five other grantees, including two of my musical heroes Donny McCaslin and Don Byron, both of whom will be leading their own respective ensembles. The concert is free and open to all ages in one of the most beautiful settings in New York City, and I hope to see you there.
In other news, the BKG recorded our commission “Don't Blink” in February and will be doing some final mixing soon. I'm pretty stoked about how it sounds! Thanks to Pete, Henry, Kermit and Satoshi for the incredible playing, Paul Wickliff for getting great sounds and keeping the session moving, and to my brother Simon for capturing the moment on film. Here's a sneak preview of what's in store:
If you can't catch us in Bryant Park, perhaps you'll come hear us in a lovely garden concert at The Hopper House in Nyack, NY. We'll be playing there Thursday evening August 13th at 7:30pm at one of my favorite places to hear music, the home of iconic American artist Ed Hopper in my hometown of Nyack on the Hudson. It's a perfect place to bring family and friends and enjoy an evening outdoors.
Other upcoming events you may want to see:
June 6 at 7pm. , The Falcon Marlboro, NY
Ed Palermo Big Band presents The Wizard of Zodd featuring Napoleon Murphy Brock. The ultimate mashup of Frank Zappa and Todd Rundgren wrapped up in a twisted pageant based on the Wizard of Oz. I've been a member of Ed's band for fifteen years—you won't want to miss this one!
June 10 at 8pm. Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY
The John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble will be celebrating the release on Sunnyside Records of “Songs We Like a Lot”, the sequel to the Grammy-nominated album “Songs I Like a Lot”. We will also be performing at the Newport Jazz Festival July 31st if you happen to be attending.
June 25 at 7:30pm. Christ and St.Stephens Episcopal Church, 120 W.69th St., New York, NY
That's right: 27 years of cutting edge big band music premiers, the last fifteen of which I've been a proud participant. And unfortunately this will be the last one, so make sure to see this if you can. If you want to know more about the history of this incredibly influential workshop and it's future, you can visit this site and join in the conversation: https://www.facebook.com/groups/593463090756480/
Thank you for reading and I hope to see you at one of these events! If you have any comments drop me a line or visit benkono.com, would love to hear from you.
Nice to 'exhale' after a lot of hard work this spring. Sometimes, though, a little surprise can come out of the blue. In perusing the August issue of DownBeat Magazine, I noticed my name in the "Rising Star: flute" category of the annual critics' poll! I'm not sure how these things work, but it's nice to see my name alongside Sam Most and Kent Jordan, although honestly I should think they would be in the "established artist" category. Anyway, regardless of what you think of polls (obviously there are many omissions) "Rising Star" is better than "Sinking Stone" and congrats to all those whose contributions were noticed (including longtime friend and Ben Kono Group member Henry Hey).
Coming up: New recording sessions and concerts planned for Ed Palermo Big Band, Chris Zuar, and a concert in Israel with saxophonist Eli Degibri. Happy summer to you!
I am thrilled to announce that we have been granted a commission to write an extended work for BKG to be performed sometime in 2014. Many thanks to Chamber Music America and the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation! More details to come...
Hello friends, and seasons' greetings!
In the spirit of the season, the good folks over at Nineteen-Eight Records are offering a sweet deal on all of their records, including "Crossing" released this year by your's truly. For a limited time only, they are offering every single cd in their catalog for only $7 each. This special holiday pricing will last through the rest of December only and will end on January first. You can see the limited-time pricing adjusted on each artist page. This pricing only applies to physical CDs and is only available at Nineteen-Eight. If you already have "Crossing", perhaps you know some else who may enjoy it (…just saying'…!) or perhaps check out some of the other fantastic releases from this year. Either way, can't go wrong with great music!
"Crossing" has had some fine reviews over the year including some recent end-of-the-year press:
'CROSSING' TOP DEBUT ALBUM OF 2011--Jazz Journalists Association
BEST OF 2011
"The first time I listened to "Crossing" (Nineteen-Eight), the debut CD by multi-reed player Ben Kono, the music stopped me cold. Not only does Kono play a slew of instruments (oboe, english horn, flute, alto flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone and shakuhachi), his compositions and arrangements are strikingly good. Supported by the rhythm section of John Hollenbeck (drums) and John Hebert (bass) plus the fine keyboard work of Henry Hey and soaring electric guitar of Pete McCann (his acoustic work is also excellent), Kono creates an aural auto-biography that is as moving as it is musical. His wife, Heather Laws, adds vocals and french horn to several tracks. What a debut!"--Step Tempest
JAZZ: SEMI-TOP TEN FOR 2011
"Kono is one of the stalwart session men on the New York scene, from Broadway to the stellar big bands of Darcy James Argue and John Hollenbeck. His versatility as a player comes through on Crossing in a rich range of musical thinking; all the pieces are his own, and his writing makes excellent use of wordless voice, french horn, and his own terrific flute and double-reed playing. His writing makes the band, with Heather Laws the aforementioned singer/horn player, Henry Hey on piano, guitarist Pete McCann, John Hébert on bass and drummer Hollenbeck, sound enormous. The musical ideas come out of the contemporary legacy of sophisticated, internationally tinged jazz composition and orchestration, make use of the best lessons from the likes of Pat Metheny as well as his own colleagues. Kono places an emphasis on melody, and is a real craftsman, shifting his lovely lines through different textures and harmonies, combining sections that seem like bits of songs into larger forms and never losing track of where he has come from and where he is going."--The Big City Blog
Looking forward to some great things in 2012 and I hope to see you at some of them! Thanks for listening and for your continued support, I wish you all the best for the holidays and the new year.