“I’m just a super-energetic person, and I have different ways of expressing that.” – Lakecia Benjamin
Lakecia Benjamin is a force of nature. Growing up in New York City, she discovered her saxophone career path when she joined the band in middle school. “I was drawn to the appeal and shininess,” she says, with a laugh. By the age of 14, she had left home and was supporting herself with local gigs. Hard work and grit earned her admission into famed LaGuardia Arts as well as The New School where the teachers are also working jazz musicians. Gary Bartz, Clark Terry, Reggie Workman – these were her mentors and stage mates, eventually leading to bigger gigs and stages with Stevie Wonder, Gregory Porter and Alicia Keys. Today – in high demand as a player, writer, arranger and bandleader – Lakecia is one of the most dynamic and charismatic artists on the jazz scene.
To celebrate her impressive range and spirit, we’re featuring two of her albums for summer – one ebullient and funky, the other complex and ambitious. “Rise Up” is a straight-up motivational jam, punctuated with funk and hip-hop grooves, blistering solos, and bright arrangements. And “Pursuance: The Coltranes” pays simultaneous tribute to the music of John and Alice Coltrane. Recorded in two marathon 12-hour sessions, the album features a slew of great guest players and stunning musicianship with fresh interpretations of classics like “Central Park West,” “Acknowledgement” and “Spiral.” “I’ve always felt that John and Alice Coltrane were the perfect dynamic of what musicians should be,” Lakecia says. “Technically proficient, spiritually proficient, good human beings trying to help people.” Play it forward.