8.28.12 Adam Benjamin + Jason Harnell Duo
Adam Benjamin is a Grammy-nominated and critically acclaimed pianist, keyboardist, composer and writer based out of Los Angeles, who is recognized as a Rising Star in Jazz in Downbeat magazine’s critic’s and reader’s polls for two years running. While his unmistakeable sound crosses stylistic boundaries and challenges traditional notions of jazz, he maintains a humble and humorous approach that connects him with his audiences worldwide.
He is a founding member of Kneebody, a electric quintet widely recognized as one of the most unique ensebles in jazz. Their 2009 Grammy-nominated release is a radical reinvention of the songs of Charles Ives in collaboration with singer Theo Bleckmann (Winter and Winter, 2009). Their upcoming release You Can Have Your Moment (Winter and Winter, 2010) is the fourth full-length album from the “spontaneous and exciting” (Downbeat) “freakishly talented quintet” (All About Jazz).
His latest solo piano album, Alphabets and Consequences (f.Boo Records, 2010) is a unique series of improvised miniatures that transform familiar jazz and folk melodies into quirky impressionist etudes bursting with both humor and gravity. This follows Long Gone (Kind of Blue, 2008) and his notorious 2007 self-release It’s a Standard, Standard, Standard, Standard World, which captures 37 jazz standards through the lens of Garageband 1.0 technology. This hilarious yet strangely expressive release quickly became a underground favorite, and was hailed as “a majestic tour de force” by Dave Douglas.
He has also toured and recorded extensively with Dave Douglas’ electric band, Keystone, including 2010 world tours debuting Spark of Being, a collaborative work with filmmaker Bill Morrison. Adam’s contribution is central to the Keystone albums Live in Sweden (Greenleaf, 2006) and Moonshine (Greenleaf, 2008).
Adam has also performed, collaborated and toured with artists as varied as Jimmy Chamberlin Complex, So Percussion, Joshua Redman, and Beck, and has contributed to many film scores, including co-writing the score to John Krasinski’s 2009 adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. He has performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Hollywood Bowl, and North Sea Jazz Festival, and has been a guest lecturer and faculty at Stanford University, the Banff International Jazz Workshop, CalArts, University of Southern California, and the School for Improvisational Music.
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Coming from a musical family, Jason Harnell started playing the drums at age six, when long-time friend of the family, and jazz drumming legend, Louie Bellson gave Jason his first real drum set. After extensive private study in his formative years with teachers Hank Bellson, Shelly Manne, Joe Porcaro, Tom Glaister and Vinnie Colaiuta, he attended the University of South Florida and moved to Los Angeles in 1990. Upon arriving in L.A., Jason continued his extensive private studies with Jeff Hamilton, Dave Weckl, Wally Snow and Joe LaBarbara and in ’92 was asked to join the prestigious Maynard Ferguson Big Bop Noveau Band. Jason enthusiastically accepted the invitation and for nearly two years, toured all over North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, and China. During this time, he also recorded an album with Maynard for the Concord Jazz label, entitled “These Cats Can Swing”.
Since then, Jason has become one of the most sought after jazz drummers/educators/composers on the West Coast and a mainstay on the Los Angeles jazz scene. His unmistakable sound and style, as well as his boundless imagination and pure love of the instrument, make him a driving force on the creative music scene today. Jason has played and recorded with some of the world’s top jazz musicians including Larry Goldings, Bob Sheppard, Larry Koonse, Kate McGarry, Adam Benjamin, Kei Akagi, Bruce Forman, Steve Tavaglione and Darek Oles and was recently featured in Downbeat Magazine (10/09 edition), Jazziz Magazine (Fall 2009) and has appeared in several national drum publications including Modern Drummer magazine (6/94, 7/94, 9/00).
Currently, Jason performs regularly with three different bands in and around the Los Angeles area. “JoE-LeSs ShOe”, the critically acclaimed trio featuring Matt Otto on saxophone and Jamie Rosenn on guitar, has been togehter since 2002 and released their second album, “Outsole” in November of last year on Jazz Collective Records. ”3-ish”, the adventuresome chord-less trio comprised of Ryan McGillicuddy on bass, Matt Otto on sax and JH on drums has been playing together since 2004 and released their debut CD, “Baobab” in 2008 on J.C. Records. Jason is also a member of the popular, newly formed electric quartet, “Sigmund Fudge” featuring Joe Bagg on keyboards, Jamie Rosenn on guitar and Ryan McGillicuddy on bass whose debut album is due out later this year. All three bands focus on original material and display a unique ability to traverse boundaries while exploring the very deepest levels of empathetic group interplay.
Harnell also has an extensive list of session credits including Verizon, Nissan, Chili’s, Cheetos, Suntory Royal Whisky, and “Funny People” (a Judd Apatow film, released in 2010). He can also be seen (and heard) on the television show, “Married with Children” and in the upcoming Clint Eastwood film, “Hoover”.
As an educator, Jason is currently on faculty as a lecturer in jazz drum set performance at University California Irvine, (2004-present) and at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood (2005-present) and is one of the most sought after and in-demand jazz drum set educators on the west coast. He is also an active, “core” member of the Los Angeles Jazz Collective (www.lajazzcollective.com), which is a group of creative minded musicians dedicated to building a stronger jazz community within Los Angeles and a greater public appreciation for improvised music.
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- August 27, 2012 / 3:33 am
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