Album Review of
The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful

Written by Joe Ross
January 11, 2021 - 7:14pm EST
Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star

Saxophonist Jeff Benedict’s musical friends are also kindred spirits who bring more than just sterling musicianship to this big band’s second album. Their special bond, comfort and cohesion elevate their eclectic repertoire to an even higher plane of power and intensity. Jeff Benedict wrote the title cut in 1989 after moving to California to serve as a Professor of Music at Cal State, Los Angeles. His first impressions of L.A. evolved into discoveries of the city’s soul and substance. His other self-penned songs include “Ant Dance,” “Moonscape,” and “Armadillo Research.” Conducted by David Caffey, the Jeff Benedict Big Big Band also offers some inventive arrangements of selections from Irving Berlin (“Cheek to Cheek”), Miles Davis (“Nardis”), Sandy Megas (“Tom and Jerry”), David Arnay (“The Mighty Dollar”) Frank Churchill (“The Fotomat Song”) and Quincy Jones (“Hikky Burr”). While the group plays firmly within jazz structures, their groove also has tasty elements of rock, pop and Latin flavorings interspersed within dynamic, crisp musical conversations. Besides Benedict’s passionate solos on alto sax, there’s also nothing mundane about the creative virtuosity projected by Jeff Ellwood (tenor sax), Paul McKee (trombone), Jeff Hellmer (piano), Dave Askren (guitar), and Charlie Richard (baritone sax). Trumpet players Brian Bettger and Steve Hawk get a piece of the fiery action in “Tom and Jerry” and “Hikky Burr,” numbers that reinforce the 70s theme of the album. For an up-tempo fresh interpretation of a standard, check out their nearly 10-minute rendition of “Cheek to Cheek” that features the entire saxophone section. This is a very solid set from a band that gives us an engaging contemporary performance with hints of nostalgic flair.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)