Here we are at the end of August and for many a back to school groove. The 21st of August brought more unseasonal but nice cool weather at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art -Friday Night Jazz Series. The stage was well fired up with the Ben Wendell Ensemble. They shared an array of original music, and featuring some of the best on horns and a fantastic rhythm section.
Ben Wendell - Saxophone and Bassoon
Mark Ferber- Drums
Adam Benjamin - Rhodes Keyboards
Josh Nelson - Piano
Darek Oales - Bass
Ben Wendell is well known on the Jazz scene around town for his congenial engagement with the crowd before dousing us with his commanding voice on Sax.
Josh Nelson took us through every key and tonal mode on the Piano, striking chords that connected with the soul all evening.
Animated Adam Benjamin on Rhodes - Keyboards was a compelling and enjoyable force to experience as he complimented Ben and the others superbly exhibiting lots of passion which is crucial for relationship with the music, audience and musicians. Otherwise...Why are we here???
Darek Oales on Bass always shines and tonight he shared his glorious bond, soaring on every level through varied rhythm changes and music styles. Just call the tune, Darek will add statements that need no explanation other than...YEAH!!!!
Looking for some attractive drumming that wisps you away and cloaks you in the essence of the night? Mark Ferber took us there through the balmy summer evening.
Some of the tunes shared were, "Maupin", a tribute to the great Saxophonist, Benny Maupin. The piece was composed by Ben Wendell.
"Breathe" was another Wendell composition. At the end of the first set a be-bop filled tune was delivered which sounded like one those stirring Charlie Parker tunes, but can't give you the exact title.
Once again, Josh on Piano, Darek on Bass, Adam on Rhodes, Mark on Drums created solos that produced some shouts from the heavens.
Beautiful, Beautiful Music...
"Unfinished Symphony” a Wendell narrative composition and he shares it as such. It is presented in several movements. One features the Bassoon displaying an exquisite Jazz format by Ben. Take that woodwind and turn the sounds out of that classical freeze, please. Mr. Wendell did just that. Welcome to the world of Jazz - Bassoon!
The ensemble performed more original pieces which were equally moving and beautiful. Ben Wendell's style is inspiring and always leaves you wondering "what's next".
He plays Straight Ahead Jazz with passion, mission, and a solid foundation while showcasing his own signature that sets him apart making runs on his horn at sometimes what I call "roller-coaster excitem ent" speed. Ben is all the time in gorgeous groove with the rhythm section, while often quoting lines from tunes done by our past great artists.
It is exhilarating to hear, see, smell, and touch all parts of his music.
This was a wonderful evening of musical adventure at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Be sure to check out Ben Wendell and his Ensemble when he's in your neighborhood. Who knows??? He may be stopping in soon.