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Jeff Benedict Big Big Band "Holmes"

The Jeff Benedict Big Big Band was not formed in the traditional fashion. There are many great musicians in Los Angeles, and it would be easy to form an excellent band from the deep pool of local talent. These musicians come from all over the country: they are, of course, from Southern California, but they are also from San Antonio, Chicago, Denver and Washington D.C. The common thread, besides being outstanding musicians, is that they are human beings with whom I have a special connection. All of the musicians on this recording are friends of mine, many of them for 25 years or more. I am in awe of their musicianship, and it is an honor to be among them. In short, I have groovy friends. I met Paul Romaine when we played together in a band in junior high school. We were inseparable in high school - we spent countless hours in Paul’s basement listening to records. David Caffey was my Jazz Band director at the University of Denver, and was my primary mentor in my first years of graduate school. Jeff Jarvis was a freelance musician in Denver, and played trumpet on the first recording I produced with the group “Euphoria” in 1982. Later that same year, when I moved to Austin, Texas to begin working on my Doctorate, one of the first people I met was Paul McKee. I became an instant fan of his eloquent trombone playing and his unparalleled skill as an impromptu comedian. While in Austin, I also met Gerry Amoury, who is without a doubt the best bass trombonist I have ever heard (also a formidable comedian), and Steve Hawk, who is not only one of the best lead trumpet players in the country, but also one of my very favorite human beings. Tom Tallman was the star of the Jazz Band at Augustana College, my first job as a College Professor 30 years ago. One of the great joys of teaching is that students graduate and become colleagues – Tom is such a student, and we have remained friends ever since. Charlie Richard, who is one of my favorite musicians, collaborated with me 25 years ago to form the Orion Saxophone Quartet. Adrian Williams has been with the quartet for the last 20 years, and Ken Foerch, the newcomer, has been with us for 10. Jeff Ellwood, who is our permanent “sub” in the quartet, was a student of Charlie’s when I first met him, and I was impressed by his musicianship even as a college freshman. Frank Rico and Otto Granillo were students of mine at Cal State L.A. It is very gratifying for me to see that they have become such fine young professionals. Jacques Voyemant has been a colleague of mine at Cal State L.A. for the last 17 years, and we played together in the band “Rhubumba.” Dave Askren has been both a mentee and a colleague – I have known Dave since he was working on his MA about 20 years ago. We have played together in a lot of different situations, and we have recorded two CDs together. Tim Emmons and I have worked together at Cal State L.A. and at Occidental College, and we have known each other 14 years. Matt Harris is the newest addition to the list: I did not know Matt personally before doing this project together. I have, however, been playing his music for over 30 years – I FEEL as though I have known him that long. The making of “Holmes” has been a very personal endeavor for me. The title is taken from the track by the same name, which is a piece that I wrote for my late father, Peter Holmes Benedict. Like my father, “Holmes” is a quirky piece that is on the one hand very traditional (my father wore only bow ties, and drove the same car for over 20 years) but with an odd twist now and again (he carried a 45-caliber revolver in his briefcase – the gun was plugged and could not be fired, but he liked to walk into business meetings and quietly place it on the table). The repertoire on the CD is diverse, from traditional blues (Come On In, Holmes and Delta City Blues) and standards (Easy Living and Bitter Jug, based on the Jitterbug Waltz) to the music of Pat Metheny (Jaco) and Sting (Seven Days). The grooves are swing, second line, latin, funk and a couple of odd meters for good measure. It has been a supreme joy to make this recording - it is my hope that listening to it is joyful as well.


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