Ben Wendel - 'The Seasons'

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Monday December 03, 2018

From eJazz Now

By: Bill Donaldson

Ben Wendel’“saxophonist, bassoonist, composer, arranger, producer, educator, social media innovator, writer of movie scores, artistic council founder, member of numerous bands, musical group leader, musical visionary’“has developed one of the year’s most fascinating jazz albums. The Seasons, three years in refinement, had been available in its original form on YouTube. That series worked out so well for Wendel that he now is developing another video series, Standards with Friends, in which he works with even more musicians than those in The Seasons series. The influence of YouTube music videos grows as listeners go to the Internet for music discoveries. Similarly, Esperanza Spaulding released twelve YouTube videos in advance of her recordings’ availability in physical CD form.

[…] Wendel’s ideas for performing works named after the months derived from a decidedly different source: jazz artists he admires. Wendel’s humanistic approach to The Seasons allowed him to perform a monthly series of duos. The chosen musicians naturally were flattered not only by the video-recorded performance opportunities, but also by Wendel’s absorption of their musical styles and the essences of their personalities. It’s unclear whether Wendel chose his duo collaborators because they reminded him of the months during which their videos appeared, or if the choices were more mundanely a matter of availability for those months. Nonetheless, Wendel’s final work is undoubtedly an artistic achievement worthy of borderless attention. Through what is, in fact, musical descriptions of human souls, The Seasons transcends barriers, proving once again that music is an international language.

The Seasons video series transcends the ordinary because of its overriding comprehensive concept, which indeed did require a year to accomplish. Each month’s video was posted on, and remains on, Wendel’s web site. Wendel performed in wide-ranging intimate venues with the musicians characterized by the compositions, and he recruited director Alex Chaloff professionally to record the series.

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