by Anne Carlini
| Title – ‘The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful’
Artist – The Jeff Benedict Big Big Band
For those not in the know, Jeff Benedict has been playing professionally since the age of 14. He received a Bachelor of Music degree in Saxophone Performance and a Master of Arts in Composition from the University of Denver and he played professionally in the Denver area for 10 years and led his own band, Euphoria.
In 1982, he went to the University of Texas at Austin, where he began his pursuit of a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Saxophone Performance with the famous classical saxophonist Harvey Pittel while a regular member of the Jazz Quartet.
From 1984 to 1993, Benedict was the lead alto saxophone in the Aspen Jazz Ensemble and he became an established performer at the Aspen Music Festival, appearing with the Jazz Ensemble, The Festival Orchestra and the Chamber Symphony.
From 1988 to 1993 he was on the faculty of the school, serving as Associate Director of the Aspen Jazz Ensemble. Benedict has performed and taught at other summer music festivals and camps including: the Tanglewood Institute, the Ojai Festival, the Britt Music Festival and the Northern Arizona University Summer Jazz Camp.
Indeed, he has also held teaching positions at Augustana College, Plymouth State College, The University of Denver, The University of Texas, Biola University, Riverside City College, and the California State University, Los Angeles, where he a Professor Emeritus.
He is an accomplished classical musician as well, having performed as an orchestral musician with: the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, the Aspen Festival Orchestra, the Aspen Chamber Symphony, the Denver Symphony, the Lakes Region Symphony Orchestra, the Quad City Symphony, and the Augustana Orchestra.
Phew! Well, now this highly impressive performer is back making well orchestrated noise with his Big Big Band, having just released a brand new album, The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful (out now via Groovy Panda Records).
This vibrantly atmospheric album opens with the midday swing vibe of ‘Moonscape’ and backs that up with the early ’70s jazz funk of ‘Nardis,’ the joyful ‘The Fotomat Song (Someday My Prints Will Come),’ more of those ’70s inspired, foot-tappin’ horn-imbued times on ‘The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful,’ and then we get one of my own personal favorites, the nine minute hipsway movements of ‘Armadillo Research.’
The antsy orchestrations of ‘Ant Dance’ are up next and they are followed by another nine minute work of orchestrated wonderment, the simply brilliant ‘Cheek to Cheek,’ which is itself backed by the finger-snappin’ fervency of ‘The Mighty Dollar,’ with the album rounding out on the light and perky ‘Tom and Jerry,’ closing on the outstandingly fantastic flashback to those early ’70s cop show theme tunes in ‘Hikky Burr.’