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Saxophonist Benny Reid at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival


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Benny Reid
Alto saxophonist Benny Reid made an auspicious debut as a leader on his first Concord Records CD, “Findings," last year. Born in Westfield, New Jersey on October 7, 1980, Reid grew up in a musical household where the records of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, {Stan Getz}} and Pat Metheny provided a soundtrack for daily life. “Since I was a kid, my mom and dad listened to all kinds of music," says Benny. He recalls, “When I was in second grade, they got us started in band. My uncle played the alto sax in college so when they asked what instrument we wanted to play, I chose the alto sax because of him."

We asked Benny to talk about his music and the influence of strong parental support in his musical development.

Q. You are about to release your second CD on Concord Records, Escaping Shadows. Tell us about this new recording due out September 15.

A. “Escaping Shadows" is the story of my life for the last five years. I might say that about every record I make due to the time it takes to compose my material, but this one has a special place. This album has the same conceptual approach as “Findings," but naturally, I took things a step further. Thanks to Concord Records, I was able to the time and had the budget to record in an ideal situation. This allowed me to create my musical architecture, use a wide variety of instruments and finesse the production elements to achieve my vision.

Q. You had a solid music education growing up and your parents were very supportive of you. How does that influence you as professional musician?

A. Without supportive parents, it would be nearly impossible to get to where I have. One must factor in a few things: the cost of instruments, school, programs and lessons, the determination and work ethic parents instill, the happiness they share when you achieve. All of these things gave me the foundation and the confidence to really pursue my dream at a young age.

My studies with various teachers over the years guided me in the right direction and I constantly listened to all of the jazz greats and transcribed their solos. Various programs such as Eastman School of, Manhattan School of Music and Rivinia summer workshops provided inspiration and fellowship with my peers. College at Indiana University was the perfect atmosphere for me to study and create.

Q. Tell us about the personnel in your group--what a band!

A. What a band indeed! All of these guys are incredible musicians but most of all we have a special bond as a group. One of the unique things about my band is the cultural influence each member brings to the table. I am from New Jersey and I compose the music and play the alto saxophone. Cuban guitarist Richard Padron is one of the most versatile guitarists in NYC and has been with the band the longest. Pablo Vergara is from Chile and is a keyboard wiz. Dan Loomis is from St. Louis and has one of the great bass sounds. Drummer Kenny Grohowski is from Puerto Rico and has incredible chops, rhythm and sensitivity.

Q. Have you ever been to Tanglewood?

A. I was there as a child and I remember it being a gorgeous place. I think it is most known for being the summer home of the Boston Symphony but they have various music events throughout the year. I am so happy to be playing at Tanglewood and have wanted to for a long time.

Thanks for listening!

The Benny Reid Quartet will open the Tanglewood Jazz Festival on Friday, September 4, at 6:30 pm in the Jazz Cafe. For more information, visit tanglewoodjazzfestival.org or call SymphonyCharge at 888-266-1200.

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