Ben Wendel Interview

Ben Wendel is a Grammy-nominated Canadian-American Saxophonist, writer, producer and educator that has been a successful bandleader, sideman and is a founding member of the Grammy-nominated urban jazz group “Kneebody” having received numerous awards including the ASCAP Jazz Composers Award and many other awards including within the classical music field. His innovative video series “The Seasons” which is soon to be released as an album, and showcased on his upcoming tours of the United States and Europe. I was fortunate to get a chance to speak with him at his home in New York in amongst his busy schedule.

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L.A. band Kneebody brings epic collection of sounds to SF Bay Area gigs

Part of what makes Kneebody so enthralling is the way that each of the musicians peels off to pursue individual projects. Wendel has recorded a series of gorgeous, intricately arranged chamber jazz sessions and contributed to albums by leading improvisers such as pianists Gerald Clayton, Taylor Eigsti and Tigran Hamasyan. Nate Wood has a one-man band project in which he plays drums, bass and keyboards, when he’s not touring as a bassist in Donny McCaslin’s band. And Rastegar has thrived touring with John Legend and Sia and writing songs for acts such as Bruno Mars, Meshell Ndegeocello, De La Soul and Ciara. He just released a new solo album, “Light of Love” (Ropeadope).

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Kneebody At Johnny Brenda's


Generally when a band announces that a group member is waylaid and can't make the gig, those in the audience start to resign themselves to an evening of subconscious apologetics—("It's not the same but pretty good for a guy subbing on short notice." or "They're doing pretty well for being a man down."). But this is Kneebody... So when saxophonist Ben Wendel told the crowd at Johnny Brenda's that bassist Kaveh Rastegar was MIA for the night, the immediate disappointment was quickly turned into disbelief. "We are fortunate to have an alien in the band," Wendel continued. "Our drummer Nate Wood will be playing both drums and bass tonight. Yes, I know, we can't believe it either, but he can do these things." Click here to read more

New York Times Premieres "The Balloonist" Video In Its "Playlist" Column

"The jazz-rock quintet Kneebody drew a lot of attention two years ago for its album with the electronic experimenter Daedelus. But the band has been around for more than 10 years, developing a cult following for its matrix-like tunes and punctilious execution. Kneebody is back to doing its own thing on “Anti-Hero,” a politically inspired and warm-blooded new album out last month on Motéma. The group celebrates the record’s release with a concert at Le Poisson Rouge on Saturday. This video, which has its premiere here, accompanies “The Balloonist,” written by band member Shane Endsley. Muscular drumming and distorted, suspended harmonies offset the almost nonchalant lucidity of Mr. Endsley’s trumpet and Ben Wendel’s tenor saxophone." G.R. Click here to see more