Jan 19, 2017
Saxophonist Ben Wendel grew up in a loud household and he had to fight to be heard. Maybe that’s why it’s so important to him to be heard clearly.
Born in Vancouver and raised in Los Angeles, by the time he left the west coast to attend Eastman School of Music, he had already been informed by a community of players and mentors, along with his cohorts in the Leimert Park scene. He carried the openness of that atmosphere with him to Eastman, then back to Los Angeles, and eventually to New York.
In college he connected with a group of like musicians and they formed Kneebody, a band that proudly defies category, but that lives in what Wendel refers to as “jazz adjacent” territory.
Ben works regularly as both a sideman and a leader. His 2015 video series “The Seasons” featured 12 original duets dedicated to (and featuring) 12 different musicians and released over the course of 12 months.
How does working in a visual medium change the way he thinks about making music? What’s happening in LA? What was it like to work with Snoop Dogg? Is it important to swing? How do you learn style and sound? Can it be taught?