Dave Askren

Press

All About Jazz

When something is not broke don't fix it, might truly apply to the longstanding musical collective of Askren and Benedict. They offer the listener a unique experience of groove-based compositions, and deceivingly easy to listen music, that actually offers a complex carbonation of effervescent tunes, that will excite and engage the listening experience, even for the most discerning jazz aficionado.

Chalked Up Reviews

Their latest concoction fusing jazz and groove is simply scrumptious.  Come Together is an amalgamation of top-notch players. Featuring: Dave Askren on guitar, Jeff Benedict on saxophone, Paul Romaine on drums, and Hammond B3 organist Joe Bagg. First and foremost, it is the feel and the groove, and both Benedict and Askren are in the pocket and killing it.

 

Bebop Spoken Here

Think Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott, Stanley Turrentine and you get the idea. Punchy grooves and riffs based on familiar changes. Maybe the roots are in the seventies but the branches stretch from the start of time to tomorrow morning, maybe later. Four groove merchants well versed in the idiom capable of dissecting an unexpected piece - the title track, the Beatles' Come Together for example - and, you've guessed it, coming back together totally transformed.

Willow Weep for Me is the aftermath of an emotional car crash. The tension builds as soon as the B3 takes off and doesn't unwind until the last few measures - phew!
Frequent changes of mood and tempo such as the above lift this above that of a mere blowing session. Lots of thought has gone into the settings to create an album that doesn't just aim at your toes but also reaches out to your heart and soul.
You get the feeling that they are having a ball and, if they are (they are), you can bet your bottom bitcoin that you are too!

The Vinyl Anachronist

A friend of mine recently brought up the idea of a "jazz mood." When I asked him what he meant, he replied something about cool, relaxed and mellow, something to be enjoyed while wearing dark sunglasses. Indoors. At night. He's not really a jazz fan, but I kind of understood what he meant--jazz is supposed to be cool and hip. I don't want to suggest that it's not, but over the last year I've been submerged in the stuff and I think it's not mellow at all. It's dynamic and punchy and exciting at times, but I don't experience many old-school jazz moods these days. Besides, cool and relaxed leads you directly into that palace of sin known as "lite jazz." Let's not be that "cool," okay?

Here's a surprise, however--guitarist Dave Askren and sax player Jeff Benedict, along with organ player Joe Bagg and drummer Paul Romain, have come up with a pure jazz album that is cool, relaxed and mellow in a completely undorky way. Come Together stands out from the crowd, and not because it's doing crazy things that have never been done before. This collection of standards, centered around the epic yet understated Beatles track in the title, exists in its own world where you can put on a pair of sunglasses at night and no one will say a word about it.

Askren is the de facto leader here--he's one of those jazz guitarists who's been around forever and has what they call an "impeccable pedigree." (He's the guy who once recorded a fabulous tribute to Bill Evans--on guitar.) Benedict, despite the nature of his instrument, is the quiet core of the group. His sax performances are solid and understated and keep the quartet firmly grounded--a good idea since there is no bass player per se. That's where Joe Bagg's earthy and gritty Hammond B-3 comes in, supplying the lower foundation while almost single-handedly providing layer after layer of cool. Paul Romain's drumming is also fantastic in that same subtle way. He's not flying all over the place with macrodynamic flamboyance, but creating new depths of rhythm and shine.

It shouldn't be a surprise that the sound quality of Come Together is uniformly excellent, but it has a dash of that live feel as if the audience was present but had their hands tied behind their backs. The immediacy of the performances and the chemistry within the quartet are fleshy and vibrant. But because the music is so calm, so confident, you might not recognize the greatness. It's there, however, sitting in the corner, wearing a pair of Wayfarers.

Jazz & Blues Magazine

Jazz Weekly

The hip team of Jeff Benedict/ts and Dave Askren/g form an organic quartet with Joe Bagg/B3 and Paul Romaine/dr on a mix of swinging covers and originals. The beauty of a B3 combo is the ability to groove out any type of song, and here they make it work on material ranging from the slinky Beatles title track as well as the bop classic “Moment’s Notice.” Romaine shuffles to delight on “Groove Merchant” while on his “’Deed I Do” Askren weaves through the chords like a runner in an obstacle course. Benedict’s tenor/alto is meaty, searing through “Cheese Grits” and shouting out loud on  “Pineapple Head.” Toe tapping is in session here.

UK Vibe

Both new names to me. Askren, the son of a church organist/piano teacher. Saxophone and piano played a part in his early musical development but it was hearing George Benson and Pat Martino which inspired him to switch to the guitar. Study at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston followed, where he later became a tutor. Jeff Benedict is a saxophonist who lives by the maxim ‘less is more’. He truly tells a story with his horn. He turned professional at the age of 14 and his credentials include working with Dave Brubeck, Phil Woods and Gary Burton. Benedict is equally at home playing jazz or classical music. In addition, he is Professor of Music at California State, Los Angeles.

For this date, Askren and Benedict are joined by Paul Romaine at the drums and Joe Bagg on Hammond B3 organ. Contrary to what one might expect from the album title, this isn’t a Lennon and McCartney tribute album.

The opening track ‘Cheese Grits’ is firmly in the Blue Note Records mould. Think of the likes of Jimmy Smith and you will get the idea. Whilst the saxophonist plays alto on this piece, I’m put in mind of the tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. This is a powerful and yet gracefully swinging piece of music. ‘Come Together’ gets a suitably original makeover and works well. Played in 7/8. ‘Nardis’ follows and the familiar theme is transformed into a funky outing for the group. After disposing of the theme statement, the band alternates between swing and funk passages to great effect. ‘Moments Notice’ opens with a beguiling drum pattern before the tune appears. Recast imaginatively differently from what John Coltrane came up with all those years ago. ‘Hear This’ is more funky fun. In places I’m reminded of the work of fellow guitarist John Scofield. ‘Pineapple Head’ is a calypso-style piece and is great fun. ‘Willow Weep For Me’ allows the organist to break out with a powerful performance and somehow seems to inspire the saxophonist to even greater things. I imagine it is difficult to do anything other than pay respect to this familiar ballad and the group do it total justice.

Gospel rears it’s head on a tune from the repertoire of the great Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra and ‘Groove Merchant’ is the ideal vehicle for this combo. Simply more funky blues from masters of the genre with Benedict on tenor saxophone. An up-tempo blues ‘Deed I Bu’ brings a thoroughly enjoyable set to a satisfying conclusion and the added bonus is to hear Benedict on soprano saxophone.

If you are looking for a contemporary reference point for this group check out the recent releases of Dave Stryker reviewed elsewhere on this site.

Rootsville Netherlands

Translated from Dutch -

Guitarist Dave Askren and saxophonist Jeff Benedict have put their hands together again after their album 'It's All About The Groove' from 2014 and together with Joe Bagg they release the B3 and Paul Romaine to the drums 'Come Together'. Even now you could say that it is all about the 'groove' to do with 10 delicious funky songs.

The album 'Come Together' was recorded in the same 'Nolan Shaheed Studios' in Pasadena Cal. The place where they also recorded 'It's All About The Groove' four years ago. Opening on this album they do 'Cheese Grits', a Jeff Benedict song on which Joe Bagg can enjoy a 'Jimmy Smith Style'. The Beatles and certainly Paul Mc Cartney are not strange to these guys and the title track is immediately transformed into a gem of Soul Jazz. It seems that this Quartet is then left for a breathtaking adventure.

With their arrangement on Miles Davis 'Nardis' they bring a groove that could also be taken by Jon Scofield and Larry Goldings as an example. 'Moments Notice' is one of John Coltrane on which these four gentlemen testify to a certain genius. The bass grooves on Jeff Benedict's 'Pineapple Head' go masterfully in the guitar vibe of Dave Askren. With songs like 'Groove Merchant' by Jerome Richardson and Paul Romaine 'Deed It Bu' they end up in an unsurpassed perfection. Dave Askren, Jeff Benedict, Paul Romaine and Joe Bagg came 'Together' to create and experience a wonderful moment.

Jazz Square - Russia

(Translated from Russian) Askren's guitar and Benedict's saxophone give a purely individual character to their sound. This applies both to their own compositions as leaders, and to covers, Miles Davis (Nardis) and John Coltrane (Moment's Notice). Acquaintance with the title track allows to say that the American musicians really managed to combine their respect for the original with a genuinely jazz treatment. In general, playing the title of the album, we can say that "Come Together" with all the music of the quartet Askren and Benedict can be any trip - it will not be boring! 

Midwest Record

DAVE ASKREN-JEFF BENEDICT/Come Together: This guitar sax duo and their pals have the sound of after hours down cold. The air is hazy, the breath is boozy and the vibe is cooking but mellow. If that don't take you back to the day, you just weren't raised right. Easy going stuff that leaves it's mark before you realize what's happened, this is a fine place to dig in for some tasty jazzbo moves that know how to perfectly place the paix de deux for maximum effect. Smoking and smoky.

Lemonwire

Unlike cover versions by rock and pop bands, Askren’s and Benedict’s take does not attempt any rock and roll hijinks to get listeners to pay attention. From the first note until the last, “Come Together” as done by Askren and Benedict remains a jazz song.

The duo performs with two friends to form a quartet. Benedict plays saxophone, Askren plays guitar, Joe Bagg plays organ, and Paul Romain plays drums. Their version of “Come Together” is softer. The shaker percussion is still there. However, this jazz version is an instrumental. Benedict’s saxophone takes the vocal line. The organ offers the song as close to a gritty element as it is going to get. The guitar plays bright and smooth, but the saxophone and organ are the showcased instruments.

In addition to being softer, Askren’s and Benedict’s “Come Together” is also longer. The group allows for improvisation that involves extending passages. At more than eight minutes long, it more than twice as long as the original, more than enough time for artful expression.

Unlike what Askren and Benedict have done with rock music and jazz in the past, audiences shouldn’t expect anything that sounds like the original. They can however, respect what has been done with a rock classic. “Come Together” as a jazz song takes on a life and an attitude of its own. That is better than cover songs of any genre that don’t attempt to add anything new to the original. Askren and Benedict prove that originality counts, regardless of genre. Audiences should respect that.

Improvijazzation Nation

Dave Askren & Jeff Benedict – COME TOGETHER: What an absolute groovin’ group to behold… I’ve been reviewing Dave’s excellent jazz guitar work since way back in issue # 81, as well as (at least) one CD he played together with Jeff (saxophone) on… this new release also features Paul Romain on drums and organ by Joe Bagg, and as you listen to tunes like the jazzily lilting “Moments Notice“… the 6:11 length of the track gives each of the players their own space to play in – & PLAY they do… LOVED this tune!  If it’s straight-ahead funk n’ groove your ears are yearning for, you’ll dig deep into “Nardis“… Jeff’s reeds wail, & Joe escalates the tune to new heights with his great keyboard solo on this one.  Their collective performance is totally pro on “Groove Merchant“… of course, since my own playing background is on keyboards, you know I was totally enchanted Joe’s organ work, but Dave’s guitar solo is absolute jazz splendor!  My pick of the ten songs for personal favorite is (without doubt) the organ-laden opener, “Cheese Grits“…. think Jimmy Smith in a 21st Century groove mode!  I give Dave, Jeff & their marvelous musical partners a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Read all about it on Dave’s music page.

KZSU Zookeeper

Review: I would have called the CD "Groove Merchants". It is a total groove! Guitar &
sax lead the group, but the organist plays a key part. Along the way they recreate some of the giants and throw in some cool originals.
If you Like: Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell, Stanley Turrentine

Jazzquad - Russia

Translated from Russian -

For guitarist Dave Askren and saxophonist Jeff Benedict Come Together is already the second joint album performed by the co-leaded quartet, which was recorded a few years ago. It's All About The Groove. True, this time they changed the composition of their team by inviting organist Joe Bagg and drummer Paul Romain into it. Both leaders of the quartet are universals. Askren, along with the album-tribute to Bill Evans, also released works in the spirit of Latin jazz, and Benedikt played with such different people as Dave Brubeck, Phil Woods and Toshiko Akioshi. He also has, by the way, four awards of different years from such an authoritative publication as DownBeat.

But nevertheless, they most of all like to play the music that came out of early fusion and funk, as the name of their previous work speaks very eloquently. Juicy groove - this is what Askren and Benedict are building most of their compositions in the new album. Its name is also in a certain sense speaking. Yes, you correctly thought, Dave and Jeff refer to the famous hit of Lennon and McCartney Come Together. As writes in the liner notes to the album Benedict, Dave Askren offered his version of the classical composition in the size of 7/4, and the musicians were afraid that they would manage to cope with it, but in the end the recording was made from the very first attempt. Acquaintance with the title track allows to say that the American musician really managed to combine here respect for the original with a genuinely jazz treatment. And the first composition of the album, Cheese Grits, reflecting Benedict's love for Stanley Tureentin's music, immediately demonstrates a qualitative change in the sound of the quartet. In the updated line-up, with Joe Bagg's very active hammond organ, the music acquired features close to Jimmy Smith's organ trios, although, of course, Askrin's guitar and Benedict's saxophone give a purely individual character to their sound.

This applies both to own compositions of leaders, and to covers, among which there was a place and plays of classics no longer rock music, and jazz - to Miles Davis (Nardis) and John Coltrane (Moment's Notice). From the leaders' own things, I will mention the Pineapple Head play, made with great art in light, playful Caribbean rhythms. And, of course, we should especially mention an amusing episode related to the final play by Deed I Bu, written by drummer Paul Romain on the basis of the old and repeatedly executed standard of Deed I Do with the inclusion in the composition of the composition ... the transcription of the voice of his beloved parrot. In general, playing the title of the album, we can say that "Come Together" with the music of the quartet Ascreen and Benedict can be any trip - it will not be boring!
http://jazzquad.ru/index.pl?act=PRODUCT&id=4760

Audiophile Review

"Fresh and exciting, a really good listen. The CD grooves through bebop, to swing, to funk to very soft and mellow."

CD grooves through bebop, to swing, to funk to very soft and mellow. - See more at: http://audiophilereview.com/audiophile-music/new-music-for-septembber-5th.html#sthash.NZdtQrQZ.dpuf
CD grooves through bebop, to swing, to funk to very soft and mellow. - See more at: http://audiophilereview.com/audiophile-music/new-music-for-septembber-5th.html#sthash.NZdtQrQZ.dpuf

All About Jazz

"Askren's blending of funk and jazz was eloquently achieved, with creative arrangements of standards and well-conceived originals."

Jazz Times

Askren and Benedict have eloquently achieved the intended goal of a “groove” album, which grooves through many styles, once again showing that groove is in the heart. A very enjoyable listen throughout.

IMPROVIJAZZNATION magazine

I give Dave, Jeff & the rest of the crew my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98...

bebop spoken here

"It's All About The Groove is a delicious mix of standards and originals...a disc that should be on everyone's playlist."

FAME reviews

"The Groove is based in a straight-ahead matrix but takes many liberties and even starts getting briefly fusiony in places... but, really, this is the sort of music you'd have headed to Soho or Greenwich Village to hear"

Yahoo

"It's All about the Groove flows seamlessly from one track to the next resounding of ageless smooth swing creating a genesis of classic and modern jazz..."

Midwest Record

"This jazz duo has it going on and you should check them out..."

Amazon.com

 5 Stars  "Nostalgia and much more - in a new voice"

Beyond Sound and Space - an ECM Records resource

From bebop to swing to funk, the synergy between the two leaders and the band as a whole remains consistent at every turn...

"The Great Jazz Guitarists"

"All of this taught me how to groove with a rhythm section, which applies to jazz as well..."

The 2008 Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings

Four - Star rating - "A lively composer, who hasn't yet made the deserved impact."

JazzChicago.net

"Notable jazz albums of 2008" - Trio Nuevo +

Latin Jazz Corner

5 Latin Jazz Guitarists Making A Contribution To The Scene

10 Latin Jazz Perspectives of John Coltrane

"Trio Nuevo +" is in good company on the "10 Latin Jazz Perspectives of John Coltrane" list!

JazzChicago.net

"Askren dances across his strings with both power and grace, straddling the line between straight ahead jazz and Latin fearlessly. Intelligent, creative and masterful, "Trio Nuevo+" is highly recommended."

Cadence Magazine

...And in general, the band's limber, playing with a kind of reserve and intimacy without sacrificing good energy and momentum. Pleasant stuff, with its own character.

The Davis Enterprise

"...this release hooked me - a fun and intriguing album, and everything swings nicely."

L.A. Jazz Scene

"The result is very likable, quite musical, and difficult to resist."

ejazznews

"Trio Nuevo +" is a masterpiece of a recording that jazz guitarist Dave Askren and his new trio of Latin jazz players, can be more than proud of. This is indeed a gem of an album that critics will praise and jazz audiences will love.

IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION

The players certainly seemed to be having a blast, and their joy is infectious... the whole band is tight & will wrap you in after only a couple of bars... I rate this one HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

The Latin Jazz Corner

Dave Askren validates the guitar's placement at the front of a Latin Jazz trio with "Trio Nuevo + ", a strong set of music that tackles both the strength of Cuban rhythms and the depth of jazz harmony....

All About Jazz

Guitarist Dave Askren leads a stellar quartet on "Some Other Things" through a program of modern mainstream jazz originals and one standard. The leader's guitar speaks with clarion authority and a fresh attack that remains loose and confident. His sound takes hold and drives this enjoyable, personable session.

AMG allmusic guide

Guitarist Dave Askren writes complex originals, quirky pieces that often have unusual structures. The quartet on Some Other Things plays Askren's compositions with expertise...This music will grow on listeners.

Cadence Magazine

There's something instantly appealing about his unadorned and clean guitar tone, not to mention a set of compositions that are tuneful, challenging and smart...a quartet with the talent and group empathy to transform what might, in lesser hands, sound like an intellectual experiment, instead of the cheerful and bright model of improvisation that it is...

All About Jazz

One of the fresh surprises of this album (Rhubumba) is guitarist Dave Askren's lyrically flowing bop-flavored guitar lines, which hark back to Wes Montgomery and Grant Green.

Jazz Now

The memory lingers on, and the cult of Bill Evans is again given posthumous expression. The result is a triumph. This is not merely a selection of tunes performed by the famous Evans trios - the nuance, the feel, the entire "Evansness" of this tribute has been captured...

Jazzreview.com

"Re: Bill Evans" is the kind of tribute album that is deserving of its own high regard... That guitarist Dave Askren was willing to tackle the challenge (of Bill Evans piano trio arrangements) is worthy of a tip of the hat. That he succeeds so admirably is worthy of wild applause.