Described as a “steadily rising talent” by the Los Angeles Times, Ben Wendel is bringing a new group to The Jazz Gallery this weekend. The reedist will debut his SOMETIMES COVER PROJECT – which incorporates music by other artists that Ben has fallen in love with recently alongside original compositions – at our new home (1160 Broadway, 5th floor) this Friday and Saturday.
Ben was born in Vancouver, CA and raised in LA, and has collaborated with everyone from Ignacio Berroa to Snoop Dogg, Daedelus to Tigran. We’ve been watching Ben develop his own voice on the bandstand for some time now – he first appeared at The Gallery with the collectively-led outfit Kneebody in 2004, and first played here under his own name in 2009. Last year on our stage, he celebrated the release of his latest recording, Frame (Sunnyside) at The Gallery, and also debuted a co-led group with the trumpeter Ralph Alessi on our stage.
We caught up with Ben to talk about the SOMETIMES COVER PROJECT and what you can expect to hear this weekend:
Two thirds of the material we’ll be performing consists of songs that I’ve discovered and fallen in love with over the last year or so. They all have something about them that resonates with me, whether it be the mood, lyrics or harmonic progression. I’ve taken my own writing aesthetic and applied it to these tunes – some of these arrangements will be quite different from the original material while others will stay fairly close. The remaining material will be mostly new, un-recorded originals that I’ll be trying for the first time, with the goal of recording them later this year.
I’m pretty good friends with most of the folks involved and have played with the majority of them in various settings; it goes without saying that I deeply respect the musicianship of all involved. Matt Brewer is someone I’ve known and admired for at least 10 years, but this will be the first time we will play together. I think half the battle when forming groups is understanding how the musicians will interact and sound together, and I feel very confident and excited about the two quartets that I’ve assembled.
Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet ComesColin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2Moby Dick – Opera by Jake HeggieElvis Costello with the Brodsky Quartet – The Juliet LettersThe Best of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald
For those that are curious, we will be playing arrangements of the following tunes:Elvis Costello: “Poor Napolean” / “Shamed Into Love”Fiona Apple: “Jonathan” / “Regret”Wye Oak: “Doubt”Michel Legrand: “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life”The Youngs: “Choose You”