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Michael Benedict

by Jeff Nania on November 10, 2011


Bopitude is not Michael Benedict’s first release as a bandleader, but it is his first release as a drummer. He is known for his work as a local vibraphonist with his former group Jazz Vibes. At times while listening to this album I would hear the drums lock in on a key riff or answer back to a soloist and think to myself, “Wow, this drummer is pretty good—who is that?” before remembering whose album it was. Bopitude is about re-creating that vintage Blue Note hard-bop sound. This is seen right down to the classic intro to Clifford Brown’s “Joyspring,” which is so often left out by the young jazz cats who call the tune at jam sessions but which purists will argue is integral to the tune. Pianist Bruce Barth hits the nail on the head in this respect. His work throughout the album epitomizes the hard-bop piano idiom as developed by guys like Tommy Flanagan and Barry Harris. Trumpeter Chris Pasin is a new name in the Capital Region jazz scene, but is featured here as one of the lead voices throughout the album. His interplay with veteran saxophonist Brian Patneaude is especially astounding on the melody of James Williams’ “Alter Ego.” Mike Lawrence has one of the most present upright bass sounds in the upstate jazz scene. His signature bass walk comes through especially well on the tasty NOLa groove “Heckle And Jeckle.” Bopitude also features tunes by greats like Bobby Timmons, Kenny Dorham, Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley and Gary MacFarland. This is yet another release from the Catskill-based Planet Arts label, which has been churning out record after record of good material. They’ve given a broad reach (as far as record distribution is concerned) to talented cats from the Capital Region, which was previously difficult to come by.