Jazz + infectious party jams = one impressive debut album from up-and-coming female saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin in Retox.
Billed by her label as “not your father’s smooth jazz saxophonist,” this NYC native has been making giant strides since picking up the instrument at age 12. As a student at the famous Fiorello La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts, Benjamin displayed such talent and passion that she began to attend the renowned jazz program of New York’s New School University. Not too long after that, she was already playing with legends like Clark Terry and Reggie Workman.
Therefore, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this composer, lyricist and bandleader is greatly in demand as an arranger and horn section leader. This led her to work with some of the world’s most popular performers including Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder, Kool & The Gang, Alicia Keys, Macy Gray and The Roots, among others. These experiences taught her much about establishing her solo career.
Benjamin wrote and arranged all of the songs on Retox, except for her cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing.” She wanted the album to honor her musical inspirations, even if that meant that several tracks wouldn’t feature her playing the saxophone. “I was more concerned with doing justice to my compositions than putting a sax solo in every song,” she says of taking a back seat to some of the vocal cuts.
Retox is a rich and soulful CD, full of funk and cool jazz rhythms that will have you hitting the dance floor in no time. Highlights include the floor-shaking power pop tune, “Soulsquad,” the casually seductive, “Keep Talkin,’” and “Maceo,” Benjamin’s upbeat tribute to sax great, Maceo Parker. But the album as a whole makes for some enjoyable listening.
For more information on Retox, please visit Lakecia Benjamin’s website.