Review: Phoenix by Lakecia Benjamin

Lakecia Benjamin Phoenix
John Hilderbrand Avatar

The new recording from Lakecia Benjamin, Phoenix, is the fourth from the talented alto saxophonist and composer. It’s produced by Grammy-winner and NEA Jazz Master Terri Lyne Carrington and features a star-studded line up of specially curated guests Dianne Reeves, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Patrice Rushen, Sonia Sanchez, Angela Davis and Wayne Shorter.

It’s a great listen. Benjamin writes potent, memorable music and is a confident player. Her band on this recording is tight: trumpeter Josh Evans, Victor Gould on keys, Orange Rodriguez on synths, drummer Enoch (EJ) Strickland, percussionist Nêgah Santos and bassist Ivan Taylor.

I loved “Mercy” with Dianne Reeves as well as “Peace is a Haiku Song” which leads into the following call-to-action anthem “Blast” featuring Sonia Sanchez. I also enjoyed the exuberance of “Jubilation” which features Patrice Rushen.

Phoenix is the epitomy of contemporary jazz. It takes the roots of jazz and moves the music forward. It’s modern and classic simultaneously. It has a message and stories to tell.

Lakecia Benjamin Phoenix

Benjamin is featured on the cover of the February 2023 cover of Down Beat.

She’s also been announced as the 2023 Artist-in-Residence at the Monterey Jazz Festival. She will work with young musicians at Monterey’s Summer Jazz Camp and with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra at the 66th annual Monterey Jazz Festival in September 2023. Lakecia will also be a featured member of Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour—Celebrating 65 Years group that will perform 25 concerts in 12 states from January 17-April 23, 2023.

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