We are excited to present our showcase this evening and would love to see you there! The Ben Kono Group will be presenting excerpts from their 2013 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works commission DON"T BLINK.
FRIDAY JANUARY 8, 5:00PM WESTIN NEW YORK AT TIMES SQUARE MAJESTIC BALLROOM 5TH FLOOR
The Ben Kono Group is:
Ben Kono; woodwinds and compostion Pete McCann; guitar Mike Holober; piano Matt Clohesy; bass Satoshi Takeishi; drums
Please come by to listen, we would love to meet you and chat with you after the performance!
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.
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.
Whoo hoo! The Ben Kono Group had a great two days at Paul Wickliffe's studio in Hampton, NJ recording the complete suite "Don't Blink", commissioned by Chamber Music America: New Jazz Works Grant and funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The peaceful rural environment (including a family of deer!) stoked our creative energies and we have something we think you'll find very different and rewarding to listen to. Thanks to the band--Pete, Henry, Satoshi, and Kermit--for making the long hall, and to Paul for getting us great sounds. Special thanks to Henry for the three-flight walkup in the East Village with a newly restored vintage Fender Rhodes--the sound was worth it!
Thanks to everybody who came out to our second installment of "Don't Blink: A CMA New Jazz Works Commission" at Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn last month, and hope you are all enjoying the summer! We seem to have escaped the 'dog days' here out east but, returning from a family trip out west, I can attest that California is indeed in the midst of a terrible drought. I spent a good many hours chilling in my mother-in-law's 'swamp cooler' mixing the multitrack recording of our concert while my daughter played in the pool under the baking sun. Nothing like mixing a record to get intimate with your bandmates! Thanks to Kermit Driscoll, Satoshi Takeishi, Pete McCann and Mike Holober for some slamming performances. I hope to post the mixed and edited performances on this site very soon. I should also mention what a great experience it was to perform at Shapeshifter Lab, they are very artist-friendly, provide some nice services like recording and video, and the tech crew make things much easier when you're running around madly trying to set things up. Thanks so much to Fortuna Sung, Matthew Garrison, and "Kiwi" for making that happen, and to my good friend JC Sanford for sharing the bill.
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).
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...
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:
Project Hansori, meaning one sound in Korean, encapsulates Jeff Fairbanks large scale work fusing Jazz and the music of various cultures, drawing heavily from certain East Asian traditions. This group reflects his vision for combining different cultural elements into a contemporary, orchestral Jazz setting. Its debut album Mulberry Street won major grants from the American Music Center and the Aaron Copland Fund. This event is made possible in part by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Composers: Joel Harrison, Michael Thomas and Christopher Zuar
Ben Kono, Michael Thomas, Jeremy Powell, John Lowery, Andrew Gutauskas – saxophones
Sam Hoyt, Jonathan Powell, Matt Holman, Dave Smith – trumpets
Matthew McDonald, Nick Finzer, Nick Grinder, Max Seigel – trombones
Joel Harrison – guitar
Martha Kato – piano
Even Gregor – bass
Jared Schonig – drums
sets at 7.30pm + 9.30pm
each set: $15/$10 members
In researching and writing his eight-part "Presidential Suite," saxophonist Ted Nash found that "great political speeches combine three elements: a prominent orator, a significant statement and considerable eloquence...A sub-theme, a thread common to all of these, is the idea of freedom. For most movements I have used the intonation - the ups and downs and cadences of the voice - to form the thematic material." Nash found inspiration in orations by U.S. President John F. Kennedy ("Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You"), Myanmar activist Aung San Suu Kyi ("Freedom From Fear"), and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ("We Shall Fight On The Beaches"), among others, and he "allowed the spirit of their messages to shape the intensity of the arrangements." This Jazz Standard engagement celebrates the CD release of Ted Nash Big Band Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom, with a recording cast that includes the voices of Glenn Close, Deepak Chopra, and Sam Waterston. On election night, the audience will be presented live election updates by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Fred Kaplan and Peabody Award-Winning journalist Brooke Gladstone.
Ted Nash – tenor sax
Sherman Irby – alto sax
Charles Pillow – alto sax
Ben Kono – tenor sax
Dan Block – tenor sax
Paul Nedzela – baritone sax