Ben Henriques is a man of few words. He prefers to let his saxophone talk for him.
On Saturday, December 3, at the St. Lawrence Stage, he “talked” to the audience with passion and fire as he performed classic and highly original contemporary jazz during his performance. Backed by the musical artistry of members of Trio Bruxo, Henriques delivered jazz his way.
Alternating between soprano and tenor saxes, Henriques almost seems to lose himself in his music when he performs. His fingers flying, his eyes closed, he is a study in musical intensity. Whether his style of jazz is necessarily everyone’s taste doesn’t really matter: it is impossible to miss the passion, the artistry in his work.
A quiet, almost diffident speaker between numbers, he seemed comfortable letting David Ryshpan of Trio Bruxo make most of the introductions.
Since this was an evening that featured original compositions by Ryshpan along with many works by Henriques himself, it was an arrangement that worked.
“You’ve just heard a piece of Ben’s called ‘Paranoia is a Flower’,” Ryshpan laughed, following a number by times dreamy, a little sexy, a little wild. “He called it that because he says both grow the more you put into them.”
Later, Henriques showed a flash of his own humour when he introduced ‘All of Me’.
“This piece has been ‘remelodicized’ into Background Music by Owen Marsh. Remember folks, you heard it here first.”
Expertly backed by bassist Nicholas Bédard, drummer Mark Nelson and pianist Ryshpan, Henriques performed in a way that was often non-traditional, and unrestricted musically. In an earlier interview with The Leader, Henriques said that in contemporary jazz, “we seek to write music in a different way.” He clearly loves the freedom to improvise that modern jazz allows him.
Numbers like ‘Captain Awesome’ or ‘Fortress of Solitude’ showcased Henriques’ skill and virtuosity. A quiet duet between just Ryshpan’s piano and Henriques’ sax was a memorable moment to me.
Solo spots highlighting the formidable talents of Nelson, Bédard and Ryshpan rounded out the evening.
“Thank you, Morrisburg,” Ben Henriques said, “for supporting live jazz.”
Tickets are currently going very fast for the upcoming St. Lawrence Stage January 21 concert featuring Don Ross, with Graham Greer opening.