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Mike Kaplan/Ben Williams Quintet

Mike Kaplan – Ben Williams Quintet

Mike Kaplan – tenor sax, Ben Williams – trombone, Pete McCann – guitar, Ron Oswanski – organ, Nick Scheuble – drums

Over the past 15 years, trombonist Ben Williams and tenor saxophonist Mike Kaplan have played together in many different and eclectic musical ensembles in styles ranging from Swing/Big Band to Latin to Funk to Post-Bop.  They have forged a high degree of musical empathy together and the Quintet features their exciting and intuitive interplay.

For over 20 years, tenor saxophonist/composer/arranger Mike Kaplan has led his Nonet, a 9 piece band that George Kanzler of the Newark Star Ledger described as, “One of New Jersey’s hidden jazz treasures.  At their best, the Nonet has the drive and excitement of the mid-size bands that Charles Mingus recorded with.”

Started in 2011 and featuring Mike Kaplan on saxes and Ben Williams on trombone in front of organ, bass and drums, the Mike Kaplan-Ben Williams Quintet combines the punch of the Nonet with a scrappier, more open feel.  An appearance by the Quintet is sure to be an interesting, wide-ranging experience and contain many surprises for the audience.  Their sound is stimulating as they perform a variety of grooves.  One set by the Quintet could contain Classic Ellingtonia and gutbucket Swing, New Orleans 2nd line party music, Latin Jazz, greasy down-home funk, standards from the American Songbook by Gershwin, Cole Porter etc, Island Reggae, compositions by Monk, Mingus and other Jazz greats, originals by the band members and more, all filtered through the 21st century Jazz sensibilities of the leader and the members of the band.

In a recent review of the quintet, Zan Stewart of the Star Ledger described Kaplan as a “subtly impressive technician who has an ability to work at pace while keeping his ideas tuneful and compelling”, while he said that trombonist Williams “tells an alluring story”.     

Trombonist Ben Williams has been lauded by the New York Times for his “sassy and barrel-voiced trombone” and has a keen understanding and command of all jazz styles from New Orleans/Dixieland to Free/Avant Garde.  Ben has performed on the Conan O’Brien Show and with South Side Johnny, the late great Clarence Clemons, George Coleman, Oliver Lake, Claudio Roditi, Keely Smith, Andy Bey, the Composers Big Band, and others.  He is currently featured on recordings “Looking Forward, Looking Back”(Diane Moser Quintet) and “Blues For Sparky” (Aaron Alexander Sextet).  Ben is also a co-recipient of a Jazz Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.    

Later Event: February 10
Shakey Ground