HSJF Recap: Kneebody

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Each year, the Berklee High School Jazz Festival brings in a guest artist to offer a clinic and concert for all those attending the festival; this year’s featured artist was the jazz-fusion band Kneebody, featuring Adam Benjamin on keyboards, Shane Endsley on trumpet, Kaveh Rastegar on bass, Ben Wendel on saxophone, and Nate Wood on drums. The band has earned critical acclaim from many different jazz publications, with perhaps the highest praise coming from the New York Times: “Cohesion is the truest constant in the music of Kneebody, a band that inhabits a borderland abutted by post-bop, indie rock and hip-hop, without seeming to give much thought to the borders.”

Kneebody began their clinic by playing a few of their songs, including “Cha-Cha,” from their 2013 album The Line. When asked to give advice for aspiring musicians, trumpeter Shane Endsley urged students to transcribe material from other instruments than their primary instrument; saxophonist Ben Wendell added, “relentless, constant hours of music, that’s the one constant [of this life].” The band then talked about how they prepare and perform songs. After stressing that all songs are learned completely by ear, the band described their on-stage musical cues.  Different musical ideas are used to tell the band to modulate, change tempo, stop, or stay in a certain section of the song. Additionally, each member of the band has a “musical name,” allowing band members to tell an individual member of the group to perform a specific musical idea. The band demonstrated some of these cues, and then showed how they might be applied in a performance situation; students who attended the clinic then had the opportunity to listen for these different cues at the end of the day as Kneebody performed their concert. The concert included some classic Kneebody songs, but also a performance of a song so new that it’s not yet recorded: “Uprising.”

We hope that all of our festival attendees had the chance to check out this great clinic and concert — but if you didn’t, make sure to check out the video below!


          February 10, 2018