Born: September 20, 1967 Primary Instrument: Reeds
Since moving to New York City in 1999, woodwind performer and saxophonist Ben Kono has been attracting attention as a singular emerging voice in cutting-edge groups like Darcy James Argue's Secret Society and the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble. Now, with the release of his debut recording CROSSING on Nineteen-Eight Records, he has come into his own light as a leader and composer of note. While growing up in bucolic southern Vermont, a deep love of classical music was fostered by his parent's strong advocacy of the arts and spurred on by a community rich in culture, live music, and arts awareness. Local jazz guitar legend and educator Atilla Zoller awakened in Ben an intense interest in jazz, emboldening him to continue studies at the Eastman School of Music and the University of North Texas. During this time he met future musical pioneers John Hollenbeck, Henry Hey, and Rudresh Mahanthappa, and studied with jazz greats David Liebman, Jerry Bergonzi, Bill Dobbins and Gary Cambell. Following a five year hitch with the U.S.Army's Jazz Ambassadors, Kono's broad musical training and experience naturally led him to the infinitely varied musical landscape of New York City. Equally skilled on oboe, english horn, flutes, clarinets and saxophones, his wide range of skills and prowess as an improviser quickly garnered high demand as a sideman. He has performed and recorded with, among many others, Michael Brecker, David Liebman, Bob Berg, Toots Thielmanns, Michel LeGrand, Tim Garland, Joe Locke, Andrew Rathbun, Manuel Valera and David Taylor; with superstars Patti Austin, Deborah Gibson, Hugh Jackman and Liza Minelli; and is a member of the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, the Ed Palermo Big Band, Gotham Winds, Numinous, the BMI Jazz Composers Orchestra, the Jamie Begian Big Band, Newyorkestra, Sound Assembly, and the Jersey Boys Orchestra on Broadway. The eloquent sounds of his woodwinds have graced the stages of Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and he can often be heard tearing up a solo at elite jazz venues like the Blue Note, the Jazz Standard, Birdland, and Le Poisson Rouge....
Kono's prowess on the saxophone has been described as …vigorous… (Doug Simpson/Audiophile Audition 2009), …outstanding… (Bill Milkowski/Jazz Times 2009), …spirited… (David Adler/AllAboutJazz May 2009), and …edgy… (Joseph Taylor/SoundstageAV.com).
On MoJa Radio, the Ben Kono Group CD CROSSING was recently reviewed as a very inventive new work.
And, in Lucid Culture, 2009, …Ben Kono's wildly offhand, gotta run tenor solo clearly late for the train and ably making up for lost time.
NEW YORK, NY
Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
University of North Texas, teaching fellow Morgan State University, woodwinds Queens College, CPSM faculty Queens College Summer Jazz Camp, ensembles and classes Rye Country Day School, faculty Packer Collegiate, faculty Clinician for U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors
Clinics for all woodwinds including oboe and english horn, jazz improvisation for all instrumentalists.