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Album Review

Dave Askren / Jeff Benedict: Denver Sessions


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Dave Askren / Jeff Benedict: Denver Sessions
Los Angeles-based guitarist Dave Askren and saxophonist Jeff Benedict collaborate on their fourth album as co-leaders on the Denver Sessions, an exquisite ten-piece set of primarily original music recorded in Denver, Colorado. The leaders have been playing together for around thirty years in the LA area but, for some time, had wanted to perform with New York-based vibraphonist Ted Piltzecker and decided to make it happen with the help of drummer Paul Romaine who encouraged the move to Denver for the recording. Bassist Patrick Mcdevitt rounds out the quintet which lays down some of the finest grooves and vibes one will experience, making this session a pleasure beyond expectations.

The sax-guitar-vibes frontline has been featured throughout jazz history, reminiscent of the Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian and Lionel Hampton collaboration and, of course, the Jackie McLean, Bobby Hutcherson and Milt Jackson combos which worked so well. There is no doubt that the Askren, Benedict and Piltzecker combination can be compared to those previous examples, except that the music here is all original material forging new ground on the hollowed landscape. The sound is upbeat, hard-driving and boppish to the core.

Leading off with the Mclean & Charlie Mingus-influenced "Jackie's Idea," the band turns a simple melody into one dynamic number, setting the stage for what is to come, as the bassist and guitarist supply delicious riffs throughout. Benedict's "Marie Adele" features the saxophonist on the soprano as the vibraphonist and guitarist join in on a warm, tender tune. "Englewood Cliffs," a homage to Rudy Van Gelder, is one of the sure keepers of the session with the quintet performing like a little big band, outstanding.

Piltzecker's "Poised" is another keeper with the vibraphonist and the guitarist lending superb solos throughout on this gorgeous samba-infused tune, the first of three Afro-Cuban-inspired pieces including "Rhumba Liam" and "Resilience." Benedict's saxophone voice is quite pronounced on his chart "Ennui Anyone?" a slow minor blues with a perky beat, a terrific number leading to the guitarist's "Memories" the only slow ballad of the session.

"Orange Express" is a fast-paced up-tempo burner providing plenty of space for drummer Romaine to express himself as the key player on this piece. The band goes out in style with a dynamite version of the time-honored standard "Stompin' at the Savoy," showcasing solos from the co-leaders, guests and the entire band. It is quite obvious that the thin air in Denver has not affected the playing of the Askren/Benedict quintet and that the Denver Sessions leaves little doubt of just how compelling the music here is.

Track Listing

Jackie's Idea; Marie Adele; Englewood Cliffs; Poised; Ennui Anyone; Memories; Resiliance; Orange Express; Rhumba Liam; Stompin' at the Savoy.


Dave Askren: guitar; Jeff Benedict: saxophone; Ted Piltzecker: vibraphone; Paul Romaine: drums; Patrick Mcdevitt : bass.

Album information

Title: Denver Sessions | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Tapestry Records

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