With 'The Seasons,' Ben Wendel Redefines the Musical Encounter

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Friday January 22, 2016


With ‘The Seasons,’ Ben Wendel Redefines the Musical Encounter
By: Nate Chinen

‘The Seasons,’ a vividly imagined collection of duets by the saxophonist and bassoonist Ben Wendel, was one of the standout jazz records of 2015. But it was never released in album form, and took the entire year to hear in full.

Mr. Wendel composed each of its 12 pieces for a different partner: peers like the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and personal heroes like the saxophonist Joshua Redman. The project was created as a video series, with each musical encounter filmed in a different location and posted online in free regular installments, like a Duet-of-the-Month Club. The music is intricate and technically imposing, but suffused with consonant melody and aglow with a spark of connection. The highly polished videos, by Alex Chaloff, capture the idea of conversational exchange.

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