Ben Rosenblum Coastal Trio Live: Jazz at Kitano -A Concert Review by Fred Stal
Jazz pianist Ben Rosenblum delivered an inspired, heartfelt performance at the famous Jazz at Kitano club on November 10, 2018. The live performance was a record release party for his new album, River City, off of One Trick Dog records. Rosenblum is young and very new to the jazz scene, yet already an award winning jazz pianist, composer, and more recently, accordionist. Hailing from New York City, Rosenblum brings to life a concoction of many styles and influences that are closely held treasures in the jazz world. From Bill Evans, and Wynton Kelly, to the swing jazz idiom, and rearrangements from blues to traditional music, Rosenblum moves gracefully across genres and sound textures. It is hard to believe he is so young, as it takes years of training to reach his level of skill and mastery in the uniquely elegant, complex genre that is Jazz.
To start the night off, “Seeds of Sin,” a Wayne Shorter tune, kicked into a progression that emanates the spirit of freedom, the core spirit of jazz, and immediate interlocking instrumentation with his fellow band mates. Drummer Ben Zweig really kicked into gear on this track, swinging, singing, and setting the pace for the evening. Eloquent textures of sound, and strong communication between band mates allowed the music to flow and take the audience on a journey. The second track performed, “Dolphin” by Luis Eça, begins with a sweet and silent introduction, captivating and taking off in subtle yet impactful fashion. Bassist Kanoa Mendenhall played this tune mostly with her eyes closed, fully immersed with every note played, and perfectly in sync with the drummer’s rhythm and Rosenblum’s piano. This track settles into a calming, intoxicating feeling, which can only be felt and truly appreciated when experienced live.
Next up, “Delilah” by Victor Young, was quite reminiscent of the jazz standard “Take Five.” Traditional Spanish music sensibilities were intertwined into one particular segment of this musical piece. Rosenblum has traveled extensively, playing around the world, and various influences taken from his experiences are evident in his musical choices. This tune was tastefully executed, played with the infectious romance of ballad format. This music invokes contemplation, warmth, and wonder. Rosenblum spoke with sincerity about this next number, stating it is a “ballad near and dear to my heart”, he also stated “this is one of my mother’s favorites” – “When Sunny Gets Blue.” . Tension builds , melodic and with intriguing choices of musical notes, this enigmatic and captivating number highlights the Bill Evans influence on the young Rosenblum. The next track was played on accordion, the classic ‘Scandelli” to be more specific, Rosenblum usually plays the Bell accordion when he plays this particular instrument, so this was a rare moment for him and the audience. Playful, masterful use of accordion in the jazz idiom, this is quite rare to see for any audience, even in New York City where anything can happen. Rosenblum has recently traveled to Eastern Europe to perform, with many new opportunities opening up due to his more recent musical excursion with the accordion.
The new album’s title track, “River City” about a “scenic town” in Florida, was a major highlight of the evening. “Blues for Stephane,” which is the second track off the new album, was another major musical highlight indeed, moving with power and precision. Ben Rosenblum is undoubtedly a rising star in jazz, and a promising new voice that bends and even defies genre. This live performance translated his new album in a way that left you feeling like you truly experienced something uniquely in its own class, a collective and immeasurable experience that only music has the power to do. It is exciting to watch Ben Rosenblum evolve, and to watch the Ben Rosenblum Coastal Trio continue to grow into the cohesive unit that they are. It is with certainty that there is much more to come from this rising talent.