Independent record label, Mnemonic Records, has released a new title “Quintets”—an instrumental album of original music by Paul James de Benedictis, featuring string quartet, the improvisational work of noted piano virtuosos Ralph Grierson and Michael Lang, jazz pioneer Jeff Lorber, and a variety of soloists including such luminaries as Sussan Deyhim, Branford Marsalis, and Paul McCandless.
The music was composed over several years, with some of the pieces being specifically written for the soloists. In “Prelude” the composition contains musical collaboration with singer Sussan Deyhim contributing vocal improvisations that were then arranged by Paul de Benedictis to form the complete work. On two of the compositions, “Il Lago” (The Lake) and “Remember,” Paul’s boyhood friends who he grew up with in the 1960’s, perform: John Knox on piano and Matt Eakle, a 20-year veteran of the famed David Grisman Quintet, on flute.
Although most of the music is written out, including all of the string quartet parts played by the Arlekin String Quartet, there is much improvisation from the pianists and soloists. In choosing the pianists and soloists it was imperative that they would be comfortable reading parts as well as improvising. Recording and mixing took place in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Menlo Park, CA. The album was mixed in stereo and surround sound by engineer Michael Romanowski over a two-year process of experimentation and listening, and was mastered by long-time audiophile engineer Paul Stubblebine.
About the music, de Benedictis said, “When I wrote the first composition, ‘Incantations,’ and thought of the name, I decided that all the pieces would have a similar essence I regard as casting a spell—a sense of repetition and ritual. This gave me a form to work from. My concept was to bring back the kind of musical interaction that I imagine was a regular occurrence in 'classical music'—before recording technology was available—where musicians, like jazz players today, listened to where the music was heading and played beyond the written notes.”
The title of the work 'Quintets' arises from the combination of the five core players: the four string players in the string quartet and the pianist. The composer added, “Even though each piece has six musicians, with the soloists sometimes performing two or more parts, I began referring to the work as the ‘Quintets,’ and the name stayed.”
All compositions by Paul James de Benedictis
except "Prelude" by Paul J. de Benedictis with vocal improvisations by Sussan Deyhim arranged by Paul J. de Benedictis
String quartet guidance & conducting by Scott Thunes.
Arlekin String Quartet recorded by Tom Carr, Music Annex Studio (Menlo Park, CA)
Branford Marsalis recorded by Robert Hunter.
Branford Marsalis appears courtesy of Marsalis Music.
Claudia Villela appears courtesy of Adventure Music.
George Shaw appears courtesy of Century 22 Productions.
Ralph Grierson appears courtesy of Music & Health, Inc.
Matt Eakle appears courtesy of Acoustic Disc.