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Michael Benedict

Gary Smulyan

David Caldwell-Mason

Greenville Jazz Band

Photos by Rudy Lu

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Five and One CD Release Performance
Greenville High School
Greenville, NY
April 6, 2012

by Rudy Lu

A post bop jazz CD release concert at Greenville Jr./Sr. High School in Greenville, NY? Certainly not an expected venue to celebrate the release of a new recording by a post bop style quintet par excellence with special guest, world renowned baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan.

Drummer Michael Benedict lead his quintet with the addition of Smulyan through a hard hitting set of post bop tunes including works by Sonny Stitt, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, and Thad Jones as well as the classic “Work Song” by Nat Adderley. Smulyan and tenor saxophonist Brian Patneaude challenged each other with solos that brought smiles to one another as well as the audience.

In addition to burning through these tunes; the band also excelled at playing ballads.  Smulyan's playing on “Last Rites for a Promised Land” was a true treat. Chris Pasin’s soothing trumpet leads on JJ Johnson’s “Enigma” showed how melodies can be played.

Although pianist Bruce Barth was not physically in Greenville, his presence was felt through his arrangements which made the three man horn section sound more like a big band. Even though Smulyan was on stage with a broken foot; his sound was far from crippled.

The young pianist David Caldwell-Mason more than just substituted for Barth.  He added some of his own flavor in both his comping and his solos.

Bassist Mike Lawrence added a solid foundation to the band’s sound and contributed imaginative solos.

Benedict lead the band with a solid swinging beat, truly enjoying himself and the sound of the band.

I would be remiss not to mention the Greenville Junior High Band and Greenville Senior High Jazz Ensembles which opened the evening’s festivities by playing two songs each.  The groups showed that Benedict is a wonderful teacher as well as musician. Highlights of their performance included  a big band arrangement of 3 Dog Night’s classic  pop tune ”Eli’s Coming” - performed by the Junior High Band - and Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia” - performed by the Senior High Band.

Ironically, Benedict will be traveling to Tunisia at the latter part of the month to teach for two weeks. Jazz is one gift that the USA has given the world. Spread the gift Michael!!!

Rudy Lu is a safety consultant by day , fine arts photographer nights and weekends and an occasional music critic. He has had a passion for jazz since his college days when he was a dj for WRUC (Radio Union College). He is a frequent contributor to as well as His work has been exhibited locally and has been featured by both nationally known and local musicians. He lives in Niskayuna, NY.

This review is part of the Jazz Journalists Association’s Jazz Day 2012 Blogathon.