Lakecia Benjamin – Phoenix (ENG review)

Whirlwind Recordings - Available
Lakecia Benjamin – Phoenix (ENG review)

There are artists who have things to say, and those are the ones we prioritize on Bayou Blue Radio. The saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin is unquestionably one of these artists, and the announcement of this album is living proof. “Phoenix” is the highly anticipated and expansive album in the musical evolution of alto saxophonist and composer Lakecia Benjamin. The album was produced by the multi-Grammy-award winner Terri Lyne Carrington and features an impressive list of carefully selected guests, including Dianne Reeves, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Patrice Rushen, Sonia Sanchez, Angela Davis, and Wayne Shorter. It is, to my knowledge, the last time we have the opportunity to hear Wayne Shorter on a recording.
Modern, intelligent, profound – an album that may not appeal to everyone, but it doesn’t matter. There is substance here, beautiful material that forms works that will be talked about for a long time. In 2018, you could already hear her on Bayou Blue Radio on the track “Right on Brotha” from Robert Glasper’s “Reimagined Miles Davis” project. Indeed, the shadow of Miles is present on this album, with trumpet intentions here and there that leave no doubt.
Benjamin’s music is also a story of transmission, of musical heritage. Not the kind of heritage frozen in time, but something else entirely. Sometimes playing with Miss Eliot or Alicia Keys to make some money – nothing shameful, quite the opposite! Because all these experiences shape an artist. In January 2023, Benjamin released “Phoenix” on Whirlwind Recordings. The 12-track album, mostly original, is performed by her septet and produced by Terri Lyne Carrington, forming a grand and inspiring album. The group consists of trumpeter Josh Evans, keyboardist Victor Gould, synthesizer player Orange Rodriguez, drummer Enoch (EJ) Strickland, percussionist Nêgah Santos, and bassist Ivan Taylor. Trumpeter Wallace Roney Jr, organist Rhodes Anastassiya Petrova, and bassist Jahmal Nichols each join for one track.
The richness of this album is as much about the quality of the compositions and arrangements as it is about Lakecia’s saxophone playing. The choice of personalities on this album is simply divine! Listening to “Phoenix” is as enjoyable as the greatest albums of Weather Report; there is that same strength in the compositions and performances. Undoubtedly, Lakecia Benjamin is one of the greatest personalities in current jazz, soon to be heard on Bayou Blue Radio and also endorsed by the Paris-Move editorial team, placing this album in the “essential” pile.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, January 10th 2024


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