It’s a double-header kind of day for versatile saxman Ben Wendel. Los Angles-based saxophonist/bassoonist Wendel and his group will be showcased in a pair of performances today (Friday, October 2). They will be performing a free concert at 5:30pm at the College of St. Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts in Albany before heading over to the longtime Nippertown jazz club, Justin’s in Albany, for another round of tunes beginning at 9:30pm.
A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Wendel has enjoyed quite a diverse career as a performer, composer and producer. Recent highlights include tours with such acclaimed artists as Cuban drumming legend Ignacio Berroa, Thelonious Monk Piano Competition winner Tigran Hamasyan, electronica artist Daedelus and hip-hop star Snoop Dogg. In addition, Wendel is a founding member of the genre-bending group Kneebody.
Wendell is also plenty busy as a composer, having scored multiple films, received the ASCAP Jazz Composer Award, won the 2007 International Songwriting Competition and recently received the Chamber Music America “New Works Grant.” Wendel’s first solo album, “Simple Song,” was released in March on the Sunnyside Records label.
Nippertown jazz fans have had several opportunities to hear Wendel play as a sideman in recent weeks – with Ignacio Berroa at the Lake George Jazz Weekend and with Otmar Ruiz at A Place for Jazz in Schenectady. Now it’s time to find out just what he can do as a bandleader.
In Albany, Wendel will be joined by Adam Benjamin on Fender Rhodes, as well as pianist Tigran Hamasyan, guitarist Nir Felder, bassist Ben Street and drummer Nate Wood.