Ben LaMar Gay

Ben LaMar Gay is a composer and cornetist who moves sound, color, and space through folkloric filters to produce electro-acoustic collages.  His unification of various styles is always in service of the narrative and never solely a display of technique. A Chicago native, Ben’s true technique is giving life to an idea while exploring and expanding on the term “Americana.”

By being active in Chicago’s experimental music scene and having spent a three-year residency in Brazil, Ben has collaborated with several influential figures in the world of music, including Joshua Abrams, the Association of the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Bixiga 70, Black Monks of Mississippi, Celso Fonseca, George Lewis, Nicole Mitchell, Jeff Parker, Theo Parrish, Mike Reed, Tomeka Reid, and Itibere Zwarg.

Ben received his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Northeastern Illinois University. He has served as a music instructor in Chicago Public Schools, a guest lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a facilitator with the Chicago Park District’s Inferno Mobile Recording Studio for six years. The latter helped set the tone for a core philosophy that fuels his musicianship, a fundamental component of which explores the lineage of an idea passed from one generation to another. He aims for his work to have the same functionality as most folktales, which is to create variations on timeless themes to help people make sense of their existence and place in the world.

With the celebrated release of his debut album, Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun (International Anthem, 2018) and multiple commissions, Ben is establishing his unique place and voice in the creative ecosystem. He has received artist residencies from Edgar Miller Legacy Glasner Studios and the Red Bull Music Academy. His range of performances and creative projects span from his hometown in Chicago’s very own Symphony Center and across the globe to places such as Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Nigeria, Poland, and the Netherlands.

Ben’s musical influences derive from his collection of experiences in all of the Americas and the gathered data channeled by technology and its amplifying accessibility. The fact that the world is closer via technology and that everyone has access to the possibility of exploring different ideas makes his avant-garde version of “Americana” very global. Embracing global vision while remaining true to his roots, Ben aligns his creative output with the honest notion that he only knows how to be a man from the South Side of Chicago.

Ben LaMar gay

Ben LaMar Gay – ‚Benjamin e Edinho‘

The hidden treasures of this Chicago cornetist/multi-instrumentalist and international traveler continue to be uncovered.

Ben LaMar Gay has been a continuous presence on the Chicago music scene for years now, he is a member of the prominent AACM (The Association of the Advancement of Creative Musicians) and he has been collaborating with the likes of George Lewis, Theo Parrish, and Makaya McCraven. Still, until 2018 his solo recordings were barely to be heard.

Then, out of nowhere, his solo recordings made during the previous period started popping up, during 2018 he started out with three—Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun, (a sort of a ‘best of’ of his unreleased recordings) Grapes and 500 Chains.

Now he finishes the year in full force with a fourth, Benjamim e Edinho, while his label promises that there are three more yet to come! Of course, a logical question pops up, are these recordings worth the trouble, and why hasn’t a wider audience caught up with Gay already?

Part of the answer, why he is still a relatively unknown artist may actually lie in the story behind this album, LaMar Gay recorded in collaboration with the Brazilian guitarist Edinho Gerber. It turns out Gay has been traveling for a number of years, actually spending extended time in Brazil, where he recorded with prominent names from that music scene that besides Gerber includes the likes of Celso Fonseca and jazz/funk/samba/Bossa Nova big band Bixiga 70.

The moment “Dere Ma Baby Go” opens Benjamim e Edinho, you realize why LaMar Gay is that second part of the hidden treasure term – equal parts Brazillian rhythms, experimental sounds, and Gay’s bluesy vocals, like the whole album, it is a showcase on how you can make music that is essentially experimental in its nature sound quite accessible. In many respects, it reminds of the similar concept applied by Japanese trumpeter/composer Jun Miyake, another kindred soul that has often used Brazilian music as his starting point.

“Swim Swim” sounds as if members of the rock avant-garde band The Residents have joined the party with its quirky changes, but never detracting and actually adding to the composition’s accessibility. “Weapons” shows Gerber’s brilliant guitar skills, as well as the fact that Gay is an excellent singer with roots in all musical forms.

The instrumental “Golden Thrush” takes us into the territory so familiar to the fans of ECM Records sound, and another Brazilian master Egberto Gizmonti, without sounding derivative for a second.

The track seamlessly leagues into “Totem” probably the most straightforward composition on the album, but also a beautiful ballad that shows Edinho Gerber’s skills again, but which, as is the case with the whole album, are never fleshy or in any way try to overshadow LaMar Gay.

“Empregada” shows what melting pot of musical ideas can really produce – a combination of Brazilian and electronic rhythms, understated jazz fusion strands and Gay’s almost rap-inspired singing, combined with scat backing vocals. One of the highlights of the album that is already all highlights in the first place.

“Kunni” and “Ye Ye” closed the album in the high style it opened, the first just a set of swirling electronics, bass lines and Gay’s excellent vocals, yet another of the album’s highlights, while “Ye Ye” the most fast-paced composition on the album injects a healthy dose of funk/jazz with its horn arrangement, something not at unfamiliar to the Brazilian music scene, obviously so familiar to Ben LaMar Gay.

As brief as Benjamim e Edinho is, it just keeps you searching for more. Don’t be surprised if after listening to it you not only search out the previous three re-releases but highly anticipate the coming three. Maybe that will give a chance to Ben LaMar Gay to get out of that hidden category.

A former, well, a lot of things: journalist, diplomat, translator and then journalist and writer again…

Ben LaMar Gay

(* um 1984Chicago) ist ein amerikanischer FusionmusikerKornettGesangKomposition).

Ben LaMar Gay

Wie würde es klingen, wenn sich Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt und Gilberto Gil zum Tanztee getroffen hätten? Wie Ben LaMar Gays neues Album.

Es gibt Popmusik, also zum Beispiel das Album „Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun“ (International Anthem) von Ben LaMar Gay, über die kann man eigentlich nur Dinge schreiben, die mit höchster Wahrscheinlichkeit exakt das Gegenteil von dem erreichen, was sie im Sinn haben. Oft begegnet einem dann sofort das grausige Wort „hybrid“ und man sitzt nicht mehr im Konzert, sondern in einem Botanik-Seminar oder einem Autohaus. Um eine so wahnwitzig wie großartig zusammengepuzzelte Musik wie die des Amerikaners Ben La Mar Gay erfolgreich unter die Leute zu bringen, wäre es viel besser, man würde mit einem Kopfhörer durch die Fußgängerzone flitzen und ihn einfach mal dem nächsten freundlichen Menschen auf den Kopf setzen. In aller Zärtlichkeit natürlich. Es müsste dann zum Beispiel der Song „Miss Nealie Burns“ laufen, der als unwiderstehlich eiliger Banjo-Gypsy-Big-Band-Swing beginnt, mit ganz großem Bläser-Tröten, bevor sich unmerklich – aber völlig zwingend – diese hauchzart-elegischen Tropicália-Gesänge unter das Spektakel schieben. Als ob sich Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt und Gilberto Gil zum Tanztee getroffen hätten. Wer dabei nicht mindestens glücklich grinst, dem ist auf dieser Welt nicht mehr zu helfen. „Swim Swim“ könnte ebenfalls ganz gut funktionieren: Vollgas-Balalaika mit knochentrockenem Break-Beat-Trommeln und Spoken-Word-Raunen und Tropicália-Chören. Der Soundtrack für einen retrofuturistischen Blockbuster, in dem sich Afrika und Südamerika um die Weltherrschaft streiten – und deshalb einen Stellvertreterkrieg in Russland führen. Und selbst da, wo auf Ben LaMar Gays Album die Kollisionen eher skizzenhaft bleiben, beim hypnotisch-dröhnenden „18 Hairdresser: Braids & Fractals“ etwa oder dem mächtig bouncenden Club-Rumpler „A Seasoning Calles Primavera“, hat man immer noch den Eindruck, Material und Ideen vor sich zu haben, aus denen andere Musiker eine ganze Karriere basteln würden. Oder vier oder fünf. Musik zu einer Zeit, von der wir dereinst in unseren kühnsten Träumen hoffen werden, es hätte sie wirklich einmal gegeben.

Wirken[Bearbeiten | Quelltext bearbeiten]

LaMar Gay wuchs auf der Südseite Chicagos auf und erhielt seinen Bachelor of Arts in Musikerziehung von der Northeastern Illinois University. Er war sechs Jahre lang als Musiklehrer an öffentlichen Schulen in Chicago, als Gastdozent an der . [1] Für seine eigenen Produktionen überlagert er seine Songs eklektisch mit später aufgenommenen Teilen, zunächst auf dem Album .

LaMar Gay war 2009 mit dem Downtown Castles Can Never Block The SunSüddeutschen Zeitung als ebenso „wahnwitzig wie großartig zusammengepuzzelte Musik“ charakterisiert wurde. [2][1] 2019 folgte für dasselbe Label CoultrainJungle Mumbo Jumbo (2020).

Ben LaMar Gay gilt als einer der produktivsten Kollaborateure der Musikgemeinde Chicagos, was seine aktive Mitwirkung bei Nicole Mitchells Earth Seed, Joshua Abrams Natural Information Society, sowie bei …

Ben LaMar Gay gilt als einer der produktivsten Kollaborateure der Musikgemeinde Chicagos, was seine aktive Mitwirkung bei Nicole Mitchells Earth Seed, Joshua Abrams Natural Information Society, sowie bei …

Highly Rare ist ein neues, von Makaya McCraven produziertes und arrangiertes Mixtape und wurde mit den Musikern Junius Paul (Bass), Nick Mazzarella (Alt-Saxophon) und Ben Lamar Gay (Kornett, einseitige Br…

Artist Biography by Matt Collar

Chicago cornetist Ben Lamar Gay is one of the city’s most adventurous and boundary-pushing performers with sound that touches upon avant-garde jazz, hip-hop, indie rock, Brazilian traditions, and experimental electronic composition. A member of the Gay (who also spent time traveling and living in Brazil) emerged in the 2000s singing and playing a variety of instruments. Most often, he works in the studio, layering his songs with overdubbed parts, as he did on his own Juba Dance album Orange. Over the years, he has proven himself to be an unpredictable artist with a wide-ranging stylistic ear.

Raised on Chicago’s South Side, GayAACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). As a solo artist, he released the album Orange under the Juba Dance moniker. From there, he appeared on albums by a diverse range of artists from hip-hop performer Polyphonic the Verbose and jazz drummer Makaya McCraven to alternative R&B artist Coultrain. He has also collaborated with Jaimie BranchTheo ParrishCelso Fonseca, and others. In 2018, Gay collected a handful of his own unreleased tracks for his debut album, Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun, on International Anthem.

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Bandcamp Daily  your guide to the world of Bandcamp

Ben LaMar Gay’s Debut Album Mixes Free Jazz, Bossa Nova, and Electro-Bounce

This Week’s Essential Releases: Black Metal, Mersey Beat, Electronic, & More

Cannibal Corpse’s George „Corpsegrinder“ Fisher stops by for an interview

Ben LaMar Gay gilt als einer der produktivsten Kollaborateure der Musikgemeinde Chicagos, was seine aktive Mitwirkung bei Nicole Mitchells Earth Seed, Joshua Abrams Natural Information Society, sowie bei …

Ben LaMar Gay gilt als einer der produktivsten Kollaborateure der Musikgemeinde Chicagos, was seine aktive Mitwirkung bei Nicole Mitchells Earth Seed, Joshua Abrams Natural Information Society, sowie bei …

Highly Rare ist ein neues, von Makaya McCraven produziertes und arrangiertes Mixtape und wurde mit den Musikern Junius Paul (Bass), Nick Mazzarella (Alt-Saxophon) und Ben Lamar Gay (Kornett, einseitige Br…

Ben LaMar Gay gilt als einer der produktivsten Kollaborateure der Musikgemeinde Chicagos, was seine aktive Mitwirkung bei Nicole Mitchells Earth Seed, Joshua Abrams Natural Information Society, sowie bei …

Ben LaMar Gay gilt als einer der produktivsten Kollaborateure der Musikgemeinde Chicagos, was seine aktive Mitwirkung bei Nicole Mitchells Earth Seed, Joshua Abrams Natural Information Society, sowie bei …

Highly Rare ist ein neues, von Makaya McCraven produziertes und arrangiertes Mixtape und wurde mit den Musikern Junius Paul (Bass), Nick Mazzarella (Alt-Saxophon) und Ben Lamar Gay (Kornett, einseitige Br…

Featured Tracks:

If you’re worried that you’re a latecomer to the work of uncategorizable Chicago musician Ben LaMar Gay, take solace in the certainty that you’re not alone. Gay’s new album, Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun, supposedly draws from seven of his previous records, with curious names like Grapes, Benjamim e Edinho, and Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks. But when you start googling, not one of these albums surface. In this age of Bandcamp and Soundcloud, the cornetist, composer, and vocalist recorded seven albums in seven years but never let anyone outside of his inner circle hear them. Instead, he worked with jazz and experimental artists like Joshua AbramsNatural Information SocietyNicole MitchellJaimie Branch and Bitchin Bajas while allowing his own songcraft to incubate to maturity.

Both a debut and a compilation, the confident Downtown Castles is a showcase for Gay’s eclectic sensibility. Fractured, giddy, funky, and meditative, each song and sketch spotlights a different aspect of his talents. The pulsations of “Music for 18 Hairdressers: Braids & Fractals” allude to Steve Reich’s minimalist masterwork Music for 18 MusiciansAssociation for the Advancement of Creative MusiciansMuhal Richard Abrams, “Muhal” would seem to situate Gay firmly in the Chicago jazz tradition; cornet and bass clarinet creak as he croaks lyrics woven from Abrams’ album titles. But, unlike an Abrams composition, the track throbs, tightens, droops, and flutters like a Prince B-side.

His Purpleness also makes his influence felt on the sensuous highlight “A Seasoning Called Primavera.” An ode to a paramour in braids that melts into an extended cooking metaphor (spiced with Gay’s knowing aside “I get it”), the song bounces atop a fidgety, broken beat, never staying put for long. There are nods to baile funk, footwork, the percolator danceThundercatD’Angelo, along with a dash of banjo and sawed fiddle. That may sound like a pretentious jumble of references, but Gay knits them so they all sway together.

Downtown Castles picks up sounds from all over the map—and the challenge of tracing those global influences is more fun than it is frustrating. A spoken-word interlude situates Gay in some Southern swampland; the layered voices and sputtering electronics of “Kunni” conjure early TV on the Radio. He finds the sweet spot between New Orleans Dixieland and Rio samba on the jubilant “Miss Nealie Burns.”

That Brazilian rhythmic sensibility weaves its way into most of the music, probably because Gay lives there when he isn’t in Chicago. He melts together violin, shakers, and synth bass on the beautiful “Uvas,” his voice never rising above a whisper. A crackling static pulse provides the bossa nova-inspired beat, as though Gay is transmitting the breezy, murmured music of João Gilberto from another galaxy. This is but one indelible moment among many on Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun, an album that is less about fusing jazz, funk, and other genres than it is about elevating the diverse sounds of Earth to the heavens.

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