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The Benet Mclean Quartet was formed in 2003 & since then has evolved & grown into a world-class & dynamic combo, regularly performing around London & attracting a growing following. Currently promoting their recent CD which has been heard extensively on numerous radio stations, this exciting group features mostly original compositions written by Benet & other members of the group.

JAZZWISE MAGAZINE

by JACK MASSARIK

"THE CONTENDER"

Benet McLean has pulled few punches over the last five years delivering his arresting brand of dusted-down post-bop. Now, with two albums under his belt as a leader, he's ready to move up an extra weight.

The lean, mean Benet McLean is a man of contradictions. Though a hyper-modern, forward looking pianist and composer, his music harks all the way back to Meade Lux Lewis, Fats Waller, Mary Lou Williams and Art Tatum. Another anomalous fact is that the Northolt wild man of neo-bop was once a boy wonder of classical violin. Very much so. He began violin lessons at the age of three and won a junior scholarship to the Purcell School of Music.

      Despite his unusual Christian name, there's no French connection there. His mother just liked the name of St Benet's, a church she'd once seen in Yorkshire. She and her fellow-Australian husband met in London as post-graduate students, she a botanist, he an engineer. They were'nt musicians, but loved music so much that Benet and his younger brother Viv were steeped in it almost as soon as they could walk...

JAZZWISE MAGAZINE

by JACK MASSARIK

“Four out of Five stars”

Benet McLean “In The Land of Oo-Bla-Dee”

Early as it comes, I expect this to become my UK album of the year. Pianist-singer-rapper-composer Benet McLean is not young enough to be described as a new discovery but he seems to have been making giant strides lately. On these tracks he’s positively bursting with talent and energy. I first caught him live in an unbalanced duo with Jean Toussaint which did not work well at all, but with his own trio, as on this album, his second, he’s simply sensational.

Whether rocking along in brisk stride or gliding in ultra-fast bop, as he does on the opening track, Charlie Parker’s ‘Klactoveedsedstene’, he swings like a garage roof in a hurricane. At live gigs he’s also been known to break into contemporary Errol Garner musings, but this does not make him a mere stylistic chameleon. Whichever historical chapter he feels like opening, his playing is personal, driven and passionate. There’s no covers-feeling, it’s all Benet McLean. ‘Giant Steps’ has never sounded more fun, and to my ears nobody has incorporated rap - usually an ugly, overbearing rant, messily disconnected to a boring, metronomic beat - into jazz more successfully than he does.

Add a gift for fractured French (‘Tu Captes ou Quoi Blues’) and sense of humour - so essential in art and life - and the results are irresistible. Dodd, Miller and Yarde, a powerful soloist on alto and soprano saxes, combine admirably to bring McLean’s visions to life, their group-vocal riffs working beautifully. The moods change from funky to stormy to brooding near-silences, eased along by assured and ever-creative piano comping. This album is an extroardinary achievement that would raise eyebrows internationally if Benet had a recording and distribution deal. It’s ridiculous that he has neither and must market them from his own website. But get hold of a copy, check it out, marvel and enjoy.

EVENING STANDARD

by Jack Massarik.

”Four out of Five stars”

Benet McLean , The Vortex, N16

DALSTON looked like a Jack The Ripper film-set last night, yet female fans braved the gaslit fog to reach this uncompromising venue. Enquiries were made. “‘Cause the band’s great,” came the answer, sentiments with which it was hard to disagree.

For one thing, the group were having fun, something rare in an era of precious dilettantes who take themselves extremely seriously.

Benet McLean is as cutting-edge as any of them, being a talented and original pianist, vocalist and composer, yet he also swings and is a keen student of jazz piano, which gives him scope to play musical games, just as Chick Corea and other superstars do.

Within one enjoyable set, McLean grooved in the retro-funky style of Errol Garner, bopped in the educated style of Barry Harris and played an unaccompanied ballad with the limpid sensitivity of a young Bill Evans. Even his rap numbers were tolerable and Benet dressed his wordplay with strategic group-vocal riffs and cunning melodic hooks.

With him all the way were bassist Ben Hazelton, drummer Rod Youngs and Jason Yarde, whose strong alto and soprano solos too often strayed into abrasive free-improv territory.

Alto-sax is a real catfight right now, with Soweto Kinch and Nathaniel Facey playing the living daylights out of everything. Find this group’s albums, Cliches For Another Day and In The Land of Oo-Bla-Dee, online until some worthy label picks them up.

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MUSICIAN MAGAZINE

by KEITH AMES.

"CLICHES (FOR ANOTHER DAY)".  

Recorded totally live in a few hours, this album of liberated jazz has a vibrancy and urgency rare even for this genre. Escorted by a crack team of Roger Crosdale - Saxophone,  Chris Dodd - Bass, and Nick France - Drums, Benet McLean generates an environment conclusive to creativity, drawing on every drop of nuance from material & band-mates. Appreciation of the tunes, starting with "Tempo X", only grows as recognized by Humphrey Lyttleton, who has featured Benet on his BBC Radio 2 show. A STORMER !!

                                  

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What the Jazz community has
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JEAN TOUSSAINT (U.S. Saxophonist, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers 1983-88) BENET McLEAN is one of the finest pianists on the modern jazz horizon. He has a thorough grasp of history with eyes and ears tuned to future sounds. Look for great things from this young man.

JULIAN JOSEPH (U.K. Pianist, Composer) BENET McLEAN is a rare breed of musician; He sings with gusto, verve & energy, & applies these same qualities to his piano playing which is of Herculean proportions. A true virtuoso from the Art Tatum point of view, he can shine on his own & with a band.

His ensemble playing combines impressive influences from the 19th & 20th century classical piano tradition into the influence of pianist Kenny Kirkland, with a huge respect for Bebop. But McLean is also possessed with the ability to combine these influences with Hip-hop & contemporary musics into contemporary Jazz of the highest order. Benet McLean is musically fearless with the facility & skill to back it up! Watch this guy, he is a massive talent. Julian Joseph

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Hump

HUMPHREY LYTTLETON (U.K. Trumpeter and Broadcaster) 'CLICHES (FOR ANOTHER DAY)' is a CD that crackles with energy, talent & originality.

stevewilli

STEVE WILLIAMSON (U.K. Saxophonist & Composer) BENET is an improvisor with a natural & fluid approach. His compositions are rich in colour and mature......'CLICHES (FOR ANOTHER DAY)' is a great album.

DJANGO BATES (U.K. Pianist, Composer) I spend my days hoping someone will ask me to recommend a rapper who can play piano like Art Tatum. Then I'll be able to say, "Sure, here's Benet McLean's number, and by the way he has a great vibe and can really sing too."

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THE GUARDIAN Fast-rising young pianist BENET McLEAN has a piano technique that seems to bring Art Tatum's music into the 21st century, drawing on classiacal music, postbop, hip-hop and beyond.

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COURTNEY PINE (U.K. Saxophonist on BBC Radio 2's Jazz Crusade) Extremely talented and soon to emerge as a major player on the world stage is pianist & vocalist BENET McLEAN. This young man's love for jazz is so deep that he HAD to put it onto CD. Mad skills!

PETER MARSH (BBC Jazz CD Review) Pianist BENET McLEAN is both a sensitive group player and a gifted soloist. His improvisations are vibrant percussive flashes of colour, full of trills and slurs, concise & witty. McLean launches himself into a McCoy Tyner-esque improvisation full of colourful chordal splashes and tumbling runs.

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PHILLIP BENT (U.K. Flautist) An incredible musical mind which is a great gift when combined with his excellent piano playing.

Denise

DENNIS ROLLINS (Bad Bone & Co.) From his heart to the tips of his fingers, BENET takes the listener on a magical, musical journey . . . . . Genius.

Hoagy

HOAGY B. CARMICHAEL (Son of famed U.S. Songwriter HOAGY CARMICHAEL) BENET McLEAN is a special talent and a genius.

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PETER SWANN (Owner of one of the U.K.'s premier Jazz Venues)- "THE SANDS VENUE" We can't wait to have the BENET McLEAN Quartet here with us; it isn't often that you get to see a group with so much extraordinary talent!

GEOFFREY SMITH (on BBC Radio 3's Jazz Record Requests) . . . And we start off 'wailing' with a new piano star BENET McLEAN. This is 'Hip16t' . . . . . . Benet McLean & his quartet taking some giant steps in 2004. 'Hip16t' was Benet's tune, with himself ferocious at the piano, Roger Crosdale- tenor, Chris Dodd at the bass & Nic France on drums.

JACK MASSARIK (BBC Radio 3 Jazz Line-up Show) U.K. Jazz fans can no longer ignore the sounds of rap now that accomplished musicians like BENET McLEAN are incorparating it so skilfully into their albums. Check this album out!!

KENNIE MATHIESON (THE SCOTSMAN Newspaper) ....The most ear catching instrumental contribution comes from BENET McLEAN's inventive pianism and vibrant touch at the keyboard. He creates a big impression!

THE VORTEX- Jazz Review BENET McLEAN, despite my sniffiness about the suspiciously glib nature of the pre-publicity tag 'bebop to hip-hop', produced almost precisely that musical mixture. McLEAN himself is a class act: apparently capable of playing anything he can concieve in what is an extremely fertile musical imagination, he shone in all his solo passages, particularly in ballad material, which enabled him to stretch out harmonically and rhythmically until the resulting playing had all the startling cogency and coherence of spontanious composition rather than extemporised embellishment.

THE STANDARD Quality, up-beat entertainment that will appeal to music-lovers of all ages. Piano virtuoso BENET McLEAN will be providing an evening of cutting-edge entertainment with his talented quartet. How many of us can say that we have had to choose between becoming a solo concert violinist or a proffesional jazz musician at the age of 20?! It seems he made the right decision, because he has gone from strength to strength; performing with a number of high-profile bands at equally distinguished venues, such as The Vortex and the Barbican. . . . . McLEAN's mixture of swing, hip-hop, jazz and classical music never fails to enthuse and excite.

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MERV DE PEYER (U.K. Pianist, Composer)

As someone who has had the pleasure of listening to jazz pianists for a few decades now, it seems rare to find a contemporary artist who measures up to the glory days of  Art Tatum, Wynton Kelly and Bill Evans. Benet Mclean is one of the few young relatively unknown pianists emerging who not only has an irresistibly vivid grasp of the fundamentals of jazz, but is also adding more modern influences without watering down the essence of what made jazz great in the first place.

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His new album release “In The Land Of Oo-Bla-Dee” shows us that jazz music is in safe hands, and will keep evolving in a way which (I feel) the truly great artists’ of the past would have approved of. 

On the opening track “Klact-Oveeseds-Tene” Benet displays a virtuosity that is undeniably vibrant, his ability to swing is infectious and compelling. He goes from mind numbing Art Tatum style stride into truly wicked two handed unison be-bop lines that would be an effort for most pianists to execute one handed, then seamlessly integrating McCoy Tyner like pentatonic licks into the mix, all without letting go of his own well defined musical personality. The only criticism I could offer would be that it left me wanting to hear more. On the following cut “Tu Captes Ou Quoi Blues” he shows us his underlying sarcastic sense of humour, his vocal performance measures up to his piano playing while saying “I don’t take myself that seriously”. 

“Giant Steps” was never my favourite Coltrane composition, it has become a means for jazz musicians to test themselves and prove that they can play well rehearsed riffs over the most difficult jazz harmonies. Benet however manages to swing his way through it in a way that leaves one unaware of the inherent complexities. Helped in part by his own original composition “What You Wanna Hear” which acts as a bridge leading you in and out of this historical test piece. 

"Rakhi" is a slow paced duet with saxophonist Jason Yarde which seems just a trifle too long and is one of the only indulgent moment of the record. Having said that I’m confident that when played live one wouldn’t notice this critique. “God Be With You” is the most schizophrenic offering on the album, going from one idiom to next in a way that showcases a composer who has listened to a variety of different musical styles and isn’t afraid to incorporate more contemporary motifs into the jazz idiom. On the title track “In The Land Of OO-Bla-Dee” he uses Singers Unlimited style three/four part vocal harmonies to support the melody before embarking into a hard swinging piano solo that again left me tapping my foot while marvelling at his solid timing and inventive be-bop lines. The arrangement flips back and forth between Latin, Swing, Avant-garde and Boogie-Woogie but avoids becoming disjointed or to hard to follow. He ends with a humorous indulgence which I laughed at the first time I heard it but could have done without on a second listen. 

Vocally Benet combines the dry delivery of the late great Bob Dorough with the hard driving tonality of Michael Jackson. His piano playing is thunderous yet sensitive, and if this isn’t enough he also plays all violin parts on the record. 

The rest of his band are also impressive musicians, Bassist Chris Dodd is always there providing the perfect foundation for the rest of the ensemble to build on. The same can be said of the three drummers used. Troy Miller, Shane Forbes and Steve Washington all manage to provide an intense energy without becoming overbearing. Saxophonist Jason Yarde solo’s are reminiscent of both John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, adding a mildly Avant-Garde edge without loosing the listener or stylistically clashing with Benet’s musical vision.

Overall This album is a roller-coaster like experience, full of surprising twists and turns. My advice to the listener is to make sure you can give it your complete attention, a momentary lapse of concentration could mean missing out on one of the many musical gems presented here.

Benet deserves major recognition for the individualism and fearless originality on display. If he keeps delivering this degree of high quality music I’m sure it won’t be long before his name is added to the list of true jazz giants. My advice is to buy a copy right now and join the still small but ever growing group of lucky individuals who have heard his magical talent in action.

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VORTEX JAZZ REVIEW

by Chris Parker

8 January 2009

"Post-bop, hip-hop and beyond' (the Guardian's description) is a pithy and accurate summary of the music of pianist Benet McLean's quartet, a band completed by alto/soprano player Jason Yarde, bassist Ben Hazelton and drummer Rod Youngs.

Infused with the blistering - occasionally downright frenetic - energy characterising the former subgenre and leavened with bursts of the clattery street beats and drawled rhyming vocals associated with the latter, the group's performance thoroughly entertained a healthy-sized audience at the launch of their new album, In The Land of Oo-bla-dee.

McLean himself is an engaging frontman and an extravagantly gifted pianist, capable of executing dazzling but elegant runs in his solo capacity and of establishing satisfyingly deep grooves in his accompanying role; Yarde delivers an apparently inexaustible stream of pleasantly astringent, texturally varied explorations of McLean's themes; and with Hazelton and Youngs consistently vibrant and inventive in support, the band whips up a considerable storm even on its quieter numbers.

McLean undertakes most of the vocal duties, transforming himself as required from a rapper ('Tempo X', 'Cliches For Another Day') into a romantic crooner ('Lucy'), and Hazelton also contributes vocally, but it is the crackle and snap of the quartet's instrumental interaction that really impresses; this is a taut, well-rehearsed, cohesive band with its finger firmly on the contemporary pulse."

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What people are saying about Benet

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Musicians reviews
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"Benet McLean with "In The Land of Oo-Bla-Dee" has raised the astonishingly high level of his music making and solidified his formidable talent for keeping the passion and enthusiasm of his live spirit in his recorded performance.

      A true virtuoso on piano and violin, Benet is a musical appreciator with the most catholic of tastes and yet the music he produces has great roots in the jazz tradition. Built on top he throws in everything and the kitchen sink but with taste, intelligence and great abandon. Qualities that seem opposed he combines with imagination, he's brave, scrupulous, detailed and accurate. He's a man with a brain as fast and fertile as his fingers who expresses himself profoundly intermingling his unique voice with great appeal amongst compositions from early jazz, bebop, R'n'B and the mainstream.

      Benet McLean has alot to give and gives his all every time. He's learned and serious but never stuffy. He can make you laugh, cry and find emotions you never knew you had and this is only his second album. He's 'Proper' ! "

                                                                               JULIAN JOSEPH

I was taken with Benet McLean at the 606 Club; amazing piano chops, from James P. Johnson to Cecil Taylor dissonance; He sings as well ! "

                                                                     John Fordham, JAZZ UK MAGAZINE

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Musicians record reviews

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McLEANBenet1d

Jazzwise Magazine feature article

Vortex Jazz Review

Evening Standard

Musician Magazine

Jazzwise Magazine album review

"CROYDON & SUTTON ADVERTISERS NEWSPAPER"

BENET McLEAN QUARTET at the HIDEAWAY, Streatham, gig reviewed by Rob Garratt.

"Jazz is hip-hop, hip-hop is jazz - they're the same thing," pronounced legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins at this year's London Jazz Festival. Benet McLean would no doubt agree, melting hip-hop song forms into his traditional jazz quartet, while peppering the stew with elements of funk, fusion and pop.

Lurching from covers of Sam Cooke and Michael Jackson to bebop-on-benzedrine workouts, McLean's piano style is in equal parts Art Tatum, Elton John, Scott Joplin and Lisxt. Meanwhile his voice - more nineties boy band than jazz singer - reacts in raps, rasps and croons.

It could easily feel gimmicky, but the schizphrenic leaps are made with ease and finesse, in large part thanks to the solid rhythm section of drummer Saleem Raman and bassist Neil Charles. Rising reedsman Jason Yarde - a former sideman of Courtney Pine and Louis Moholo-Moholo, as well as leading his own formidable Trio WAH! - blew with an uncompromising passion and technique, wrenching brazen notes from his shiny alto.

The show was slyly littered with sung references to the "Hideaway", the swanky young venue which aims to bash down stuffy jazz stereotypes, much in the same way as McLean's music.

Having rinsed the last century of popular song dry, by the evening's close there was just one sacred cow left to slay. McLean took the changes to monumental Coltrane classic Giant Steps - and rapped over them. Brave beyond words, but what shall we dub his genre-bending experiments? How about hip-jazz.

RICHMOND TWICKENHAM TIMES

MUSIC PROFILE:  BENET McLEAN

Benet McLean, is one half of a pair of successful musical siblings. His brother Viv is a renowned classical pianist but Benet chose a jazzier path.

He spoke to Will Gore ahead of a gig at The Bull's Head about how he got into music, who inspires him and how he taught himself to play jazz.

Will Gore: What have you got planned for The Bull's Head show?...

Benet Mclean Interview

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