The Ben Powell Quartet
Presented by notloB Folk Concerts at the Unity Church at Unity Somerville
September 24, 2010
The Ben Powell Quartet looks forward to performing selections from Stephane Grappelli's repertoire, the American Song Book and also the music of Django Reinhardt. 2010 marks the 100th Anniversary of legendary guitarist and composer Django Renihardt. In tribute, the BPQ have been performing selections from his repertoire at concerts and festivals throughout the year. The Quartet includes a stellar line up of current students a...t Berklee of Music, and alumni. Virtuosic guitarist Lee Dynes, bassist Aaron Darrel, drummer Devin Drobka and violinist Ben Powell make up the quartet. This summer Ben has enjoyed giving performances of this repertoire across North America, including the Vancouver Jazz Festival, Victoria Jazz Festival and Salem Jazz Festival to name a few.
The past year has been an exciting one for 23 year old Ben Powell. It has seen the release of his debut record “Light” to national critical acclaim, resulting in performances at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, Vancouver Jazz Festival and on National Public Radio, among many others. Ben also graduated from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Jazz Composition. The national spotlight has allowed many more listeners to become accustomed to Powell, a Cheltenham, England native.
Born into a musical family, Ben eagerly started the violin at the age of two. Talent eminent from a very young age resulted in an invitation to solo at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics in Japan as part of an International Suzuki celebration. Ben not only developed a strong interest in jazz early on, but also the versatility to be able to play swinging improvisations. As a young teenager, he was introduced to Stephane Grappelli’s music. “I had had solid oral training on the violin for six or seven years, so I was open to jazz and improvising. I was able to relate to Stephane’s playing quite quickly. My classical training gave me the technique in order to express myself in jazz and improvisation. In jazz, whatever I feel comes out. I do not have to change my sound or technical approach at all.”
From his 2001 invitation to masterclass with jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker as part of the Cheltenham International Jazz festival, Ben has since shared the stage with greats such as Herbie Hancock, Steve Gadd, Gary Burton, Joe Lovano, Gloria Estefan, Paul Simon, Abe Laboriel, Stevie Winwood and Philip Bailey. A brilliant young violinist, Ben Powell’s recent debut CD “Light” shows what a creative, mature and swinging jazz violinist he has become.
“Light” showcases Ben’s beautiful tone and prowess on the violin. Among the many highlights are a swinging “How High The Moon,” an emotional “Danny Boy” which really puts the spotlight on his beautiful tone, the bop standard “Half Nelson”, plus two songs apiece by Stephane Grappelli and Florin Niculescu. “I’m a big believer in getting a beautiful sound, good intonation and clear articulation. There is no excuse for sacrificing the essential components to good violin playing just because one plays jazz.”
Ben is currently working on a new project in addition to performing the repertoire from “Light”. “I have taken a handful of beautiful songs and tunes from the French Jazz repertoire between the years 1930-50. The challenge is to reinterpret this music in the contemporary setting using my Organ Trio and Quartet”.
“Following in the footsteps of the great Stephane Grappelli, Ben Powell has developed a very personal inspired voice on the violin. His ideas flow freely with expression in every kind of music he’s exploring ….. It has been a pleasure working with him over the last few years and I look forward to hearing him more in the future. Bravo.” - Joe Lovano
Recent performances have seen Ben at the 2010 Victoria and Vancouver International Jazz Festivals, Salem Jazz Festival, ‘Toast of the Nation’ Concert as part of First Night Boston Celebrations, Tanglewood Jazz Festival and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, San Francisco.
An utterly unique performer, Ben’s musicianship, technical brilliance, mature, intuitive style and delivery inevitably brings audiences to their feet. The violinist-composer-bandleader is a significant new voice in the jazz world and stands in the midst of a select few jazz stars of the future.
Ben's profile: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=20804555
Ben's website: http://www.ben-powell.com/site/
Suggested donation $12 at the door; $10 if reservation is made at least 24 hours in advance. 50 seats will be reserved for student rush @ $5.
Reservations recommended. Additional information about this and other notloB concerts can be found at the http://sites.google.com/site/notlobmusic/ and/or by joining the mail list at http://groups.google.com/group/notlobmusic or by sending an email to notlobreservations (at) gmail (dot) com
See other notloB Parlour Concerts at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=136759883033069