Charismatic and dynamic saxophonist/bandleader Lakecia Benjamin, who has played with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, The Roots and Macy Gray, is slated to release her unconventional debut soul/funk album, Retox, on Motema Music. Hit producer Ben Kane, who engineered and co-produced the album with Benjamin, gives the tracks a rich, full-bodied analog sound, that nods to the great radio hits from the golden age of soul.
In keeping with her eclectic style, many of the tracks are a mix of vocal and instrumental joints. Along with the blissfully peaceful "Dreams," there are some serious party jams: the band's signature, P-Funk flavored opening track, "SoulSquad" - which evolved out of a jam at a concert sound check; "Maceo," a period-perfect, JB's-style tribute to funky sax legend Maceo Parker; and the horn-driven groove "Get Down," which Benjamin describes as, "A go-go feel meets James Brown, just to show that vocalists aren't the only life of the party!"
The albums remaining tracks cover a lot of ground as well. "Keep Talkin'," a casually seductive duet between Amp Fiddler and Tracey Nicole, mashes up a sweet mid 60s-style soul melody with more ambitious '70s stylings. "Growing up in the 90's in Washington Heights,Â I used to wake up on a Saturday morning: Sunny day, people barbecuing, sounds of Arrested Development, A Tribe Called Quest, or Common hanging in the air," says Benjamin. "On 'Share My Life,' I wanted to re-create that feeling." Recreate it she does, on a track that features airy, carefree vocals by Jacoria Marzett and a cameo from rapper Whosane over a swirling, summery ambience. Benjamin relates how "My Love," featuring the nuanced, Sarah Vaughan-esque voice of Memphis born, Parisian based Krystle Warren, addresses how love transcends mere physical attraction: "It's about walking through life and knowing you have a like-minded individual to grow with."
While she's made quite an impact with her impressive sax work on stage and on record, several of the album's 12 tracks don't even feature sax. "This album is really a fruition of years of songwriting as much as it is a showcase for my sax playing and horn arrangements," said Benjamin. On songs like "My love" and "Share" she's chosen to let the vocals carry the song. "I was more concerned with doing justice to my compositions than putting a sax solo in every song."
7/21 - Peekskill, NY - 6th Annual Peekskill Jazz & Blues Festival Saturday
7/20 - Stanhope, NJ - Stanhope House
8/20 - Harlem, NY - Red Rooster
8/21 - New York City - Rock Wood Music Hall
Jump and Shout