Artist Ben Schwendener Album Title Road Trips Date of Release 2002 AMG Rating: **** Genre Jazz Styles Modern Creative Type live 'Keyboardist Ben Schwendener is a New England area artist who seems comfortable performing within a variety of frameworks. His 2002 duet piano outing with Marc Rossi, titled 'Living Geometry,' features artfully rendered harmonic forays, drawing upon composer George Russell's infamous Lydian Chromatic Concepts. Here, Schwendener leads an electric-acoustic quintet that skirts the borders of jazz fusion and modern jazz. In fact, this outing signifies one of those rare entities where synths and thrashing electric guitar lines coalesce with avant-garde-type soloing atop sturdy backbeats. Schwendener uses an acoustic piano to augment his array of electronic keyboards, while noted modern jazz saxophonist Bhob Rainey renders either warmly melodic choruses or heated soloing forays consisting of jagged lines amid a multitude of abstracts. Guitarist Gregg Ramsey explores Hendrix-like concepts, yet also tempers the pace when required. However, Schwendener's compositions bridge the gap between relatively loud, fusion-type extravaganzas or moody contemporary jazz grooves. He displays a flair for melody whether soloing or executing an ostinato-based melody. Through it all, the musicians' discerning excursions and the leader's articulately crafted compositions provide the winning formula.' Recommended. - Glenn Astarita, AllMusicGuide.com BEN SCHWENDENER Pianist, composer, and educator Ben Schwendener has been a part of the vital Boston music scene since the early 1980's. A former student of jazz legends George Russell, Ran Blake, Jimmy Guiffre, Miroslav Vitous and Joe Maneri, Schwendener is currently on the jazz faculties of both New England Conservatory and Longy School of Music. In addition to his jazz teaching and work as a leading lecturer on Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, Schwendener teaches courses on Creative and Critical Thinking at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and directs the arts education non-profit, Gravity Arts, which he founded in 1997. Gravity Arts provides customized music and dance education opportunities for individuals, communities and corporations, and oversees the independent label, Gravity Records. As a performer, Schwendener has appeared throughout the United States, Europe and Japan with his group, as a sideman and solo pianist, produced commissioned works for dance companies, independent film, and television commercials and released three recordings as a leader. He is currently supporting his two newest releases, Road Trips, with his quintet, Falling Objects, and a recording of piano duets with fellow Boston pianist Marc Rossi, Living Geometry, while working on forthcoming recordings.
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