THE ORION SAXOPHONE QUARTET
THE ORION SAXOPHONE QUARTET came into being in 1989, established by Jeff Benedict and Charles Richard, both of whom were recent products of Harvey Pittel’s saxophone studio at the University of Texas. Staunch devotees of Pittel’s rich, expansive tone, they wanted to form a group based in Los Angeles that would play in the same bold and unapologetic manner they had studied so assiduously under his tutelage. Ken Foerch, a former member of the U.S. Marine Band, and Adrian Williams, a product of Richard’s own studio, proved to be the perfect match in tone quality and musical concept. It is the aspiration of the Orion Quartet to perform a diverse array of music in a manner true to the composer’s intent and the style of the era while also exploiting the full tonal and expressive range of Adolphe Sax’s grand invention. With a repertoire spanning five centuries, the Orion Saxophone Quartet demonstrates a perpetually robust sonority and superb command of the melodic line. The quartet has three CDs in circulation, The Orion Saxophone Quartet with Harvey Pittel (Centaur Records) Musica Latina (Maroon Creek Music) and Among Friends (Tapestry Records). Their music can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and at music retailers across the United States.
JEFF BENEDICT is a Professor Emeritus of Music at the Califoirnia State University, Los Angeles. He holds a B.M. and an M.A. from the Lamont School of Music and a D.M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a student of Harvey Pittel. He is in demand as a classical recitalist and clinician and performs regularly with the Orion Saxophone Quartet. He has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony, the Aspen Festival Orchestra and the Tanglewood Fellowship Orchestra. He is an accomplished jazz performer as well, currently recording and performing in Los Angeles. He has produced 14 CDs, including the critically acclaimed CD Holmes on the Tapestry Records label. The Dave Askren/Jeff Benedict Quartet recently released a CD It's All About the Groove that has received numerous favorable reviews and has had frequent airplay on Jazz radio.
CHARLIE RICHARD is a frequent performer in the Los Angeles area. He has appeared with the Redlands Symphony, the Riverside Civic Light Opera, Dinah Shore, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, the Mark Masters' Jazz Composers Orchestra of Los Angeles and the Kevin Mayse Big Band. A graduate of the California State University, Los Angeles, where he received both Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts degrees, he has studied saxophone with Harvey Pittel, Anthony Desiderio and Vito Susca. His compositions are published by the UNC Jazz Press, and he has been the recipient of a "deebee" award from Downbeat magazine for Best Original Extended Composition. Charlie is currently Co-chair of the Music Department at Riverside Community College, where he also teaches studio saxophone and directs the Jazz Ensembles.
ADRIAN WILLIAMS joined the quartet in 1994. A student of Charlie Richard at Riverside Community College, Adrian is one of Southern California's most outstanding young saxophonists. He has been the recipient of awards from the Music Department at Riverside Community College, the Cal. State L.A. Jazz Festival, the Music Association of California Community Colleges and the John Philip Sousa Honor Band, and was awarded a scholarship to study with Harvey Pittel at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.
KEN FOERCH is the most recent addition to the Orion Saxophone Quartet. After receiving his master of music degree at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, he started his doctoral program at the University of Southern California. Then one day a professor handed him a flyer advertising auditions for the U.S. Marine Band Foerch got the job and for the next eight years, under two presidents, played “Hail to the Chief ” thousands of times, along with anthems from dozens of other countries to announce the entrance of foreign dignitaries. Foerch then left D.C. to finish his doctorate in music at USC. He also began teaching privately and in local colleges, and played concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and a rhythm and blues band to which he still belongs. He finished his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2003. He has been an Assistant Professor of Music at Vanguard University since 2004, where he teaches a variety of classes, from jazz band to basic musicianship and aural theory.
Additional Musicians on "Among Friends"
JEFF ELLWOOD is the Director of Instrumental Jazz Studies at Mt. San Antonio College. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music and Master of Music degree from Cal State Fullerton. He has studied saxophone and improvisation with: James Moody, Rick Margitza, Ralph Bowen, John Ellis, Billy Pierce, George Garzone, Hal Crook, Gary Foster, Eric Marienthal, Charlie Banacos, Jim Odgren, James Rotter and Charles Richard. Jeff has performed or recorded with: Tony Bennett, Alan Pasqua, Bill Cunliffe Big Band, Rick Margitza, Jerry Bergonzi, Terell Stafford, Joe LaBarbera, Jimmy Haslip, Dave Carpenter, Darek Oles, James Moody, Randy Brecker, Christian McBride, Stevie Wonder, Bob Mintzer, Eddie Daniels, Arturo Sandoval, Dave Grusin, John Williams, and Quincy Jones to name a few. Jeff has been closely working with saxophonists Jerry Bergonzi and Dick Oatts, documenting all of their compositions. This work has created three volumes of Bergonzi fake books entitled The Music Of Jerry Bergonzi and recenly relesaed book entitled The Compositions Of Dick Oatts. Jeff has written a book entitled Developing Bebop Lines and is endorsed by Jerry Bergonzi, Dick Oatts, Tim Price and Chad Lefkowitz-Brown. Jeff endorses Yamaha saxophones, Silverstein ligatures and “The Core” Mouthpiece by Saxquest. www.jeffellwood.net
DAVE ASKREN has performed with a variety of jazz/latin jazz/instrumental artists, including Bob Moses, Antonio Hart, Delfeayo Marsalis, Hendrik Muerkins, Stuart Hamm, Bruce Arnold, Bobby Shew, "Rhubumba", Sal Cracciolo, Jimmy Branly, Joey DeLeon Jr, David King and Reid Anderson (The Bad Plus), Ben Schacter, Gray Sargent, Kevin Eubanks, Gary Foster, Tony Rizzi's "Wire Choir" with Pete Christlieb; as well as commercial recording artists including Marilyn McCoo, Latoya Jackson, Linda Hopkins, Little Anthony, The Coasters, The Platters, The Diamonds, The Drifters, The Marvelletes, and Brenton Wood. He teaches Jazz Guitar at the California State University, Los Angeles. All About Jazz says about Dave that his “guitar speaks with clarion authority and a fresh attack that remains loose and confident. His sound takes hold and drives this enjoyable, personable session.” All About Jazz praises “guitarist Dave Askren's lyrically flowing bop-flavored guitar lines, which hark back to Wes Montgomery and Grant Green.”
PAUL ROMAINE felt drawn to music from the depth of his being throughout his childhood. He began playing drums professionally at age 14. Paul has led, recorded, or performed with countless combinations of the Denver area’s best players and with internationally acclaimed artists such as Eddie Harris, Benny Golson, James Moody, Larry Coryell, Gunther Schuller, Charlie Rouse, Eddie Gomez, Jack McDuff, Marlena Shaw, Rufus Reid, Clark Terry, Dave Grusin, and Robin Eubanks and a stint with the Woody Herman Orchestra. He holds a Bachelors degree in recording engineering from the University of Colorado. Paul saw the need for a jazz education program for students who are serious about the music and founded the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts (CCJA) which offers a program for middle school and high school students from throughout the Denver metropolitan area to play together and study with professional musicians on a weekly basis.
RICK SHAW spent three seasons with the Sacramento Symphony before attending Eastman School of Music, where he earned a Master of Music degree in 1981. He then moved to L.A., and has toured with The Lettermen, Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson, also recording with Maynard on his first High Voltage CD. He also tours regularly with Johnny Mathis. He is a regular of the Gordon Goodwin “Big Phat Band,” and he also plays with Bill Holman and Chick Corea. He also teaches bass students and small ensembles at Riverside Community College, and his students have won acclaim at the Reno Jazz Festival. As a sideman, he has worked on TV shows such as “JAG,” “King of the Hill” and “The Simpsons,” and movies Freaky Friday,” “National Treasure” and “Legally Blonde II.” His recordings with vocalists include Julio Iglesias, Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville, Celine Dion, Beck, and Ray Charles.