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Lakecia Benjamin: Phoenix Reimagined (Live)

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Lakecia Benjamin: Phoenix Reimagined (Live)
The certifiable beauty of Phoenix Reimagined (Live) is that it all happens in very very real time as Lakecia Benjamin comes fiercely into her immediate own and then, in a tear of a performance that blisters the paint on the wall, surpasses herself. It is a momentous achievement. One that we rarely get to hear up close, personal and live.

Benjamin cuts through the malaise of an empire falling, burning down the ministry of b.s. as she wields her flashy golden alto and flames on like a rogue acetylene torch. "Brooklyyynnnn! We are celebrating joy tonight!" she proclaims, and if this career kicking recording is not the purest manifestation of community joy, then it is the next best thing.

Both artist and Phoenix Reimagined (Live) never stop. Never relent. A flame throwing contest from the onset, the artist, her horn and her rap, wildfire forward. "Trane," her blast furnace nod to none other than John Coltrane, machetes the air, the stage, the consciousness. Her tone bold, blaring, incanting like the master himself. Pianist Zaccai Curtis goes full tilt McCoy Tyner, drummer E.J. Strickland summons up Elvin Jones and its forward rate of spread is exponential.

John Scofield, Randy Brecker, bassist Elias Bailey and Jeff Tain Watts light the fuse on "Phoenix Reimagined" and a jam for the ages rages forth. Scofield's guitar slices through the muscle memory pulse laid down by Bailey and Watts as Benjamin blows with an unrestrained determination to leave her mark. Wailing like a banshee, Benjamin drives the quest for bare, unexplored energy and lucid commitment. To our great fortune, Scofield, Curtis, Bailey and Strickland hear the call and heed its warnings.

Setting her sax aside, Benjamin brings her raps to the front line of a new mind revolution. "Let It Go" and its call and response groove, seeks and destroys the long held notion that rap is a man's game in a man's man's man's world.

"Mercy" is, beyond reproach, one of those generational instrumentals that would have been a hit single back in the day when hit singles meant something and everyone was hep to the groove. "American Skin" burns. "Peace is Possible" must be heard. The jump happy "New Morning" takes one back to the Rudy Van Gelder days when another great session was just around the proverbial corner. Curtis takes his spotlight here and Benjamin adds the heat to its illumination. "My Favorite Things" brings an urgency that maybe Coltrane himself never realized. "Spirit" closes the set as it should: on a high note challenge to think differently and act accordingly. A dead certain, year end, best of.

Track Listing

Intro; Trane; Phoenix Reimagined; Let Go; Mercy; Amerikkan skin Intro; Amerikkan skin; Peace is Possible; New Mornings; My favorite things: Spirit.

Personnel

Lakecia Benjamin
saxophone, alto
Elias Bailey
bass, acoustic
Additional Instrumentation

John Scofield: Guitar #2; Randy Brecker: trumpet #2; Jeff "Twain" Watts: drums #2; Richie Woods: bass #3, #4; Ray Angry: piano #3; Melodie Ray: vocals #3, #4.

Album information

Title: Phoenix Reimagined (Live) | Year Released: 2025 | Record Label: Ropeadope


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