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Casey Benjamin

GRAMMY® award-winner Casey Benjamin is one of the original members of the Robert Glasper Experiment. Through his melodic ingenuity on the vocoder, textual mastery on the keytar, and spiky virtuosity on the alto and soprano saxophones, Benjamin gives the Experiment some of its most defining sounds. This has enabled the group to gain international acclaim in the jazz, R&B, and hip-hop scenes on such trailblazing records as Black Radio (Blue Note Records, 2012) and Black Radio 2 (Blue Note Records, 2013).

Born in 1978, Benjamin grew up listening to music in his South Jamaica Queens, New York home. He started playing the saxophone when he was eight years old and continued his studies at the Harlem School of the Arts and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art. Benjamin complemented his early jazz studies by attending pianists Barry Harris’ Jazz Workshops and Dr. Billy Taylor’s Jazzmobile. Living in Jamaica Queens also afforded Benjamin contact with musicians involved in the bustling Jamaica Funk crew - bassist Marcus Miller, trumpeter Tom Browne, and keyboardists Bernard Wright, Ozell Miller, and Weldon, Irvine Jr.

After graduating from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, Benjamin attended The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, where he met Robert Glasper in 1997. Glasper played piano on Benjamin’s demo for Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program. Benjamin and Glasper collaborated formally in 2004 with the first edition of the Robert Glasper Experiment, which played its first gig at New York City’s Knitting Factory.

In addition to the Experiment, Benjamin tours with singer Patrick Stump, and has worked with a string of other stellar musicians comprised of jazz greats, including singer Betty Carter, bassist Derrick Hodge, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, bassist Victor Bailey, and pianist Kris Bowers; hip-hop artists, including Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Mos Def, Q-Tip, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Busta’ Rhymes, Diddy, Heavy D, Consequence, DJ Logic, and Wyclef Jean; R&B singers, including Bilal, Mary J. Blige, John Legend, and Beyoncé; and Black Rock Coalition gurus, including Vernon Reid and Melvin Gibbs. Benjamin co-leads the funk-forward combo HEAVy with singer/songwriter Nicky Guiland. The band has released multiple albums, including HEAVy (Kindred Spirits, 2000), Jazz Money$$ (BBE, 2007), and First Sessions (Kindred Spirits, 2008).

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Ikechi Onyenaka
saxophone, alto

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