LIVE: The Phil Allen/Michael Benedict Concert Jazz Band @ the Lark Tavern, 6/14/15
Review and photographs by Rudy Lu
The already rich Nippertowntown jazz scene was further enriched on June 14th with the debut of the Phil Allen/Michael Benedict Concert Jazz Band at Albany’s Lark Tavern. The standing-room-only crowd was treated to two sets of big band jazz drawing from such diverse sources as Count Basie, Bob Brookmeyer and Lee Morgan.
Phil Allen is a relative newcomer to the area, coming from Indianapolis via San Francisco and Colorado Springs. Allen brought his authoritative style of conducting and encyclopedic knowledge of big band arrangements to lead the band, as well as doubling up as a valve trombone player.
Of course, Michael Benedict needs no introduction to area jazz fans, as the leader/drummer of the popular combo Bopitude, as well as a leading vibes player.
The 12-member big band featured both young and old players from our fertile jazz scene, and during the band’s debut plenty of solo time was given to each of the players. This killer band includes Dave Fisk, Lee Russo, Nate Giroux and Rick Hambright on saxophones; Scott Thompson, Chris Pasin and Sam Ponder on trumpets; Ben O’Shea and Phil Allen on trombone; Wayne Hawkins on piano; Dylan Perrillo on bass; and Michael Benedict on drums.
Following the success of their debut performance, the Phil Allen/Michael Benedict Concert Jazz Band will now have a regular residency gig at the Lark Tavern on the second Sunday of each month. The next gig will be from 7-9:30pm on Sunday, July 12. Greater Nippertown is much richer with the addition of this new band.