When we learned that the reedist Ben Wendel and his former teacher, the trumpeter Ralph Alessi, were interested in working together, we were quick to endorse the idea. The collaboration will debut this Friday and Saturday at The Jazz Gallery, rounded out by a rhythm section of the pianist Fabian Almazan, the bassist Noah Garabedian, and the drummer Kendrick Scott.
Both Ben and Rlaph have been performing here for several years. Ben, now an acclaimed artist (read: Grammy-nominated for his work with Kneebody) in his own right, received some formative training from Ralph in his college years. Ben elaborates:
Ralph was my teacher at the Eastman School of Music in the late 90’s – I still feel he was one of the best teachers I ever had! Since then Kneebody has been part of two SIM sessions and I’ve continued to see/hang with Ralph all the time, but we’ve never had the chance to play together. It finally came up in conversation a few months ago and we decided to set up some gigs.
Ralph is a pioneering creative musician, and has consistently sought out and nurtured younger artists, often enriching his own perspective with their youthful energy. Ralph adds:
Well yes I ‘ve known Ben for many years and our relationship has evolved from a teacher-student dynamic to a personal friendship. I’ve admired his playing and writing for many years so collaborating with him now on a project was long overdue. In addition, I’m really looking forward to playing with Fabian, Rodney and Noah. Should be a lot of fun and a real treat for me.