Voted 'Rising Star' flutist in Downbeat Magazine's 62nd Annual Critics Poll

Ben Kono Group performs CMA Commission 'Don't Blink' at Chamber Music America 2016 National Conference 

Dear Fellow Conference Attendee, 

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. 


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!

Bryant Park June 15th and other delights... 

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

27th Annual BMI Jazz Composers Workshop Concert

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:

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, would love to hear from you.


Musically yours,



"Don't Blink" is in the can! 

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!

Shapeshifting, Mixing, Relaxing, and RIsing in July 

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).

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!

Nineteen-Eight Holiday Sale and end-of-year wrap-up 

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


"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.

Ben Kono Group at Shapeshifter Lab, 6/24/14

Ben Kono Group: Simon and the Monk/River of Fire

Previous events


Jeff Fairbanks' Project Hansori

The Secret Theatre , 4402 23rd St, Long Island City, NY 11101

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.


Jazz Composer's Showcase vol. 7 curated by Miho Hazama

The Jazz Gallery, 1160 Broadway, 5th Fl , New York, NY 10001

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


Scott Reeves/Jay Brandford Tentet

 —  —

Silvana, 300 W 116th St, , New York, NY 10026

Scott Reeves/Jay Branford (w/John Bailey/Andy Gravish - Trumpets, Ben Kono/Lance Bryant - Saxes, Mark Patterson - bpne, Roberta Piket - Piano, Rusty Holloway - Bass, Scott Neumann - Drums


Ted Nash Big Band: The Presidential Suite

 —  —

The Jazz Standard, 116 E 27th St , New York, NY 10016

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

Kenny Rampton – trumpet Marcus Printup – trumpet Greg Gisbert – trumpet Alphonso Horn – trumpet

Vincent Gardner – trombone Elliot Mason – trombone Chris Crenshaw – trombone

Dan Nimmer – piano Carlos Henriquez – bass Ali Jackson – drums

Fred Kaplan – live election coverage (11/8 only) Brooke Gladstone – live election coverage (11/8 only)

Plus Special Guests


Meg Okura residency: the J-Orchestra

The Stone, Ave.C and 2nd St., New York, NY 10009

8 pm The J-Orchestra Meg Okura (violin) Miho Hazama (composition & conducting) Asuka Kakitani (composition & conducting) Migiwa Miyajima (composition & conducting) The J-Orchestra performs compositions by Japanese Composers !

10 pm The J-Orchestra Meg Okura (violin, composition & conducting) Idan Santhous (composition & conducting) The J-Orchestra performs compositions by Jewish Composers!


Matt Mitchell residency: 'Sprees'

The Stone, Ave.C and 2nd St., New York, NY 10009

Sprees = Caroline Davis – voice, flute, alto sax, Anna Webber – flute, alto flute, Katie Ambacher – flute, piccolo, Chris Speed – tenor sax, clarinet, Mara Mayer – clarinet/bass clarinet, Sam Sadigursky – clarinet, bass clarinet, Eb clarinet, alto flute, Ben Kono – English horn, alto flute, bass clarinet, Sara Schoenbeck – bassoon, Jonathan Goldberger – acoustic and electric guitars, Matt Mitchell – piano, Chris Tordini – bass, Dan Weiss – drums