For years now, Kneebody has been at the forefront of progressive, genre-bending music. Since their formation back in 2001, the group has amassed an impressive collection of works that showcase their adventurous approach to songwriting and unapologetically fiery style.
We are excited to sit down with some of today’s most prominent jazz musicians and discuss their ideas of improvising and music. Kneebody consists of Ben Wendel (Tenor), Nate Wood (Drums), Shane Endsley (Trumpet), Adam Benjamin (Piano), Kaveh Rastegar (Bass).
Kneebody shares a bit of their secret language and how they communicate with one another inside a piece of music.
Kneebody is a five-piece jazz band whose sound reaches across all genres. KGNU’s Indra Raj catches up with Kneebody’s bassist, Kaveh Rastegar, and trumpet player, Shane Endsley, to talk about Kneebody’s music, growing up playing jazz in the Denver music scene, and their exciting new covers project.
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.
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).
The American quintet returns with Anti-Hero, an album in the image of their music, square and crazy at the same time. A perfect alchemy, which, according to them, is almost a "miracle". Click here to read more
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
"Clocking in at just under an hour, Anti-Hero revs you up, the chills you out. And stick around for that hidden outro at the end. The musicians in Kneebody know where this music has been and where they want to take it. On Anti-Hero, they’ve created a vehicle that lets us simply enjoy the ride." Click here to read more
"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
"Kneebody’s impulse to improvise should be amplified by the great collection of new material they’ve just released, their new album Anti-Hero, the band’s ninth LP and debut on Motema Music.” Click here to read more
"Muscular quintet Kneebody have spent more than a decade pushing against the limitations of jazz, forging an instrumental approach distinguished by high-level improvisation and a bruising ensemble attack." Click here to read more.