Exclusive Magazine reviews Benjamín Schnake Ensemble with The Joy of Playing

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Benjamin Schnake Ensemble


by Russell Trunk


Title – The Joy of Playing
Artist – Benjamín Schnake Ensemble
For those unaware, Benjamín Schnake is a musician, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger.Born in Santiago de Chile, he started with classical and popular guitar lessons at the age of 10, and at 13 years old, he began to study charango (Andean small guitar), pan flutes, and quena (Andean flute) with the well-known Chilean musician Danny Rodríguez.

At that time, Schnake performed guitar and sang for the “Cantata de Santa María de Iquique” written by the renowned composer Luis Advis with the band Rimay Puka.

In addition, he participated at the Festival of Nancagua 2002, Festival of Huaso de Olmué 2003, and won 1st place at the Festival of Alcántara 2005 with the song “El Aparecido” by renowned artist Víctor Jara.

At the age of 16, he studied classical guitar and music theory in the School of Music SCD.

His most recent award garnered 1st place at the Festival of Osorno 2019 with Huari.

In addition, his brand new album, the beautiful The Joy of Playing (out October 22nd, 2021) is with the Benjamín Schnake Ensemble and features well-known NYC musician and NYU teacher Dave Pietro, along with a GRAMMY awarded post-production team and NYU alumni.

1. Marisol (7:05)
2. The Joy of Playing (5:19)
3. Fragment (6:34)
4. She’s Gone (6:49)
5. Ajú (6:03)
6. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (3:52)
7. Lakitas (6:41)

This quite stunningly orchestrated new album, that consists of original compositions and arrangements for nonet and small ensembles, in a blend of jazz and South American styles, opens on the free flowing majesty of the luscious Marisol and the melodic, gently funky foot-tapper of a title track The Joy of Playing, before we get delivered the ornately delicate Fragment (a pop chord progression with an ostinato rhythm of 1+2+2).

Next up is the quietly grandiose euphoria of the jazz ballad She’s Gone which is itself backed seamlessly by the upbeat hipsway of the Chilean folklore track Ajú (featuring a melody played by the Lakitas, traditional “comparsas” or groups from northern Chile), before the album rounds out on a brand new rendition of Charles Mingus’ Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (where Schnake adds his own style by relating the 5/8 division of the 5/4 time signature with some rhythmic patterns of the Chilean cueca), closing on the sprightly Lakitas (a huayno that he created years ago in Chile and again with the band Lakitas Zampoñaris).

This has been the most challenging project that I’ve done so far in my musical career, Schnake reveals. I sought to learn two languages: the idiom of English and the musical language of jazz. I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to create this music, and I hope that it can bring some light into your life.

The goal of any artist is to contribute to improving people’s lives, to touch someone’s heart, to bring emotions like joy or melancholy, or sometimes even nothing due to the subjective nature of art.

At the very least, we hope to communicate, to share and to provide an experience for someone. As Víctor Jara said, “I don’t sing just to sing, nor for having a good voice, I sing because the guitar has meaning and reason.”

In a modern world, where we rely on mass media communication, and still feel lonelier than ever, we have to take responsibility for communicating our deepest thoughts and creations with meaning and purpose.

This is my sincere desire that I wish to share with all of you.

Players, Instrument, Tracks Played On:
Dave Pietro – alto sax (tracks 1, 4)
Sunhyun Yoo – alto sax, soprano sax (tracks 2, 3, 6)
Tim Struven – tenor sax (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6)
John Blevins – trumpet (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6)
Eric Quinn – trombone (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6)
Jennifer Wharton – bass trombone (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6)
Ammon Swinbank – flute (track 7)
Benjamín Schnake – nylon-string guitar, electric guitar, mandolin
Santiago Leibson – piano
Gui Duvignau – bass
Paul Shaw – drums

Benjamín Schnake Ensemble – The Joy of Playing (Album Promo)

Benjamín Schnake @ Instagram

Benjamín Schnake @ Facebook

Kari Gaffney

Kari Gaffney

Since 1988 Kari-On Productions has helped artists get an even footing in the industry through jazz promotion in the genres of Jazz, World & Latin Jazz through Jazz Radio and Publicity. Why do we do both, because they compliment each other, and we care about fiscal longevity for the artist.

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