Michael Benedict’s Bopitude showcased their recently released self-titled debut CD with a free concert at Scotia’s Freedom Park last week. Led by drummer Benedict, the band also featured Mike Lawrence on bass, Brian Patneaude on tenor sax, Chris Pasin on trumpet and, for this performance, pianist Dave Gleason substituting for Bruce Barth, who plays on the CD. Both Gleason (who plays in the Latin jazz band Sensemaya) and Lawrence are teachers in the Schenectady school district.
As Benedict explained to the crowd at the outdoor amphitheater, Bopitude plays music from the hard bop era, best exemplified by the ’50s recordings of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. And in Scotia the band ran the hard bop gamut from the obscure – Kenny Dorham’s “Whistle Stop” – to the more widely recognized “Joy Spring” by Clifford Brown. The first set also featured “Cheesecake” by Dexter Gordon and James Williams’ “Alter Ego.”
The second set featured only three numbers: “Reservation” (which set the tone for the rest of the set with extended solos), “Frankenstein” (A Halloween tune by Grachan Mancur; not the Edgar Winter song) and “Heckle And Jeckle,” a Bobby Watson tune with a New Orleans second-line feel.
The band members were listening intently to each other, and the solos by Patneaude, Pasin and Gleason were not so much leading the songs, as being propelled by the rhythm section, particularly Benedict’s dynamic drumming.
Review and photographs by Stanley Johnson