2022 was a great year for Lakecia Benjamin. Along with her band Pursuance, she toured nationally and internationally to support the release of her 2020 album: Pursuance: The Music of Alice and John Coltrane (RopeaDope Records). She was chosen as one of the Mid Atlantic Arts grant recipients performing at five venues in the Mid Atlantic states. She was the featured artist in London with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by legendary Guy Barker. She served as Artistic Advisor for the first Alice and John Coltrane Festival produced by University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. And she completed her new CD, entitled Phoenix born out of her experiences coming through the pandemic, racial unrest and a life–threatening car accident.
Phoenix (Whirlwind Recordings), released on January 27, 2023 is garnering Lakecia great accolades including the covers of Downbeat, Jazzwise and Concerto magazines as well as a full feature in The New York Times Arts Section.
Phoenix is Benjamin’s highly anticipated, expansive new album in her musical evolution. The album was produced by the multi–Grammy award winning Terri Lyne Carrington. “When we came out from the pandemic we weren’t allowed to be broken,” Lakecia shares while describing the deeply personal outing Phoenix became for her. The record presents mostly original compositions. “We had to be these beautiful absorbent birds and get to work. I wanted to highlight each month of that year.” By design, the compositions on Phoenix are written around the skillsets of her triumphant guests, a handful of women in jazz who have had prominent influences on Benjamin.
New York City native-born and raised in Washington Heights, Lakecia first picked up the saxophone in elementary school, then at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts. From there she joined the renowned jazz program at New York’s New School University. Even while in school, Benjamin was playing with renowned jazz figures like Clark Terry, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Rashied Ali, David Murray, Gregory Porter and Christian McBride. With her deep jazz roots, she was soon in demand as an arranger and horn section leader.
A charismatic and dynamic saxophonist and bandleader, Lakecia Benjamin fuses traditional conceptions of jazz, hip hop, and soul. Benjamin’s electric presence and fiery sax work has shared stages with several legendary artists including Prince, Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys.