Reimagine's Art Responders Series: Lakecia Benjamin
Charismatic and dynamic saxophonist/bandleader Lakecia Benjamin shares new work, and reflects on personal losses, and the impact of COVID-19 on the jazz community.
Benjamin was recently voted as the "Up and Coming Artist of the Year" in this year's 2020 annual Jazz Journalists Association Awards. She fuses traditional conceptions of Jazz, HipHop, and Soul. Benjamin's electric presence and fiery sax work has shared stages with several legendary artists, including Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, The Roots, and Macy Gray.
Benjamin's latest album "Pursuance" is an intergenerational masterpiece that takes one on a journey through the lineage of the music with the works of John and Alice Coltrane. Benjamin pays homage to those who have come before by featuring innovative bandleaders of her generation, such as, Reggie Workman, Ron carter, Gary Bartz, Dee Dee Bridegwater, Meshell Ndegecello, Regina carter, Bertha Hope, Last poets, Greg Osby, Steve Wilson, John Benitez, Marc Cary, Marcus Gilmore, Keyon Harrold, Marcus Strickland, Brandee Younger, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Jazzmeia Horn.
As the bandleader of Lakecia Benjamin and Soul Squad, she melds the vintage sounds of James Brown, Maceo Parker, Sly and the Family Stone, and the Meters with soaring, dance-floor worthy rhythms.
A streetwise New York City native born and raised in Washington Heights, Lakecia Benjamin first picked up the saxophone at Fiorello LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts. From there she joined the renowned jazz program at New York's New School University. However, even at that early stage, Benjamin was already playing with renowned jazz figures like Clark Terry and Reggie Workman, which introduced her to opportunities to play and tour with an array of artists such as Rashied Ali, the David Murray Big Band, Vanessa Rubin and James "Blood" Ulmer. With her deep jazz roots, she was soon in demand as an arranger and horn section leader, landing stints with such acclaimed artists as Anita Baker.
Art Responders is a mix of artists and performers processing what it means to be human in this moment, grappling with themes of loss and grief, and sharing new work. Art Responders provides us with the opportunity to come together -- to be in conversation and community with extraordinary artists in this intense and difficult time.