'The Seasons': From Video Project to Album

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Monday October 15, 2018

From DownBeat

Ben Wendel Takes ‘The Seasons’ from Video Project to Album
By: Robert Ham

The modern musician is faced with an interesting dilemma these days, as they seek to find some way to fight through the flood of entertainment options and attention-grabbing devices. In 2015, saxophonist Ben Wendel found one simple way to cut through with a series of YouTube videos called The Seasons. For Wendel, revisiting this material and configuring it for five players instead of just two was a welcome challenge.

‘One cool aspect of writing duets is that you have to write in a way where every part counts,’ he said. ‘You have to create a whole universe with just two voices. What ended up being great about arranging these for a larger ensemble is that the core structure of these compositions was strong enough that it was a lot easier to transfer it to more voices. I think it would be much harder had I done it in reverse. Going in this direction, it felt quite natural.’

As for the members of the Seasons Group (as they’re being billed for a European tour), having all the videos also proved to be incredibly helpful to get a clearer sense of what kind of vibe and mood Wendel initially was trying to create, even if they took the music in a much different direction. ‘Because he wrote those songs specifically for people and for the time of year they were released, that subconsciously influences things,’ Hekselman said. ‘I play with Jeff Ballard quite a lot, and I had this image in my mind of what Jeff’s vibe is, so I tried to capture that when I play. It’s nice to actually have a person in mind when you play a song.’

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