Lakecia Benjamin’s “Retox” CD Release Party June 12th at Le Poisson Rouge
Harlem’s Lakecia Benjamin and her band SoulSquad will be taking the stage next Tuesday, June 12th at Le Poisson Rouge to celebrate her debut solo album Retox, which will be released that same day on Motema Music. I’m so excited about this artist that I can hardly contain myself. This is sophisticated funky soulful grown folks’ music all day long. After playing sax for artists like Stevie Wonder, Macy Gray, Alicia Keyes and The Roots, Lakecia assumes the leadership position and delivers a seriously raw, substantial first run.
This old soul in a young body has enough swagger with chops to back it up, to rival the funk/soul/jazz pioneers who precede her. She does her homework, studying in minute detail each and every lick, note and chord progression of those who influence and inspire her. Her original works honor her heroes as she stamps her own signature style on each joint. Her songs on Retox range in emotion & style from gentle sensuality to knock-down funk to serious jazz – BAM. Maceo was written in honor of the JBs Maceo Parker and aptly illustrates the degree of inspiration Lakecia has garnered from this master saxophonist. Smile, sung on the album by Maya Azucena is warm like new love sunshine. Jump and Shout, the album’s first single and video, featuring Chinah Blacc on vocals, brings a perfect Chakaesque edge to its “I’m over you” message. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing is Lakecia’s homage to Stevie Wonder. Every moment of this CD is full of life – dynamic, authentic, perfect.
I asked Lakecia about her experience as a composer and producer for Retox. “I feel as strongly about my composing as I do about my saxophone playing. I love the sax and I plan to play it for the rest of my life but I don’t want to be boxed into only one element of entertainment – to be a complete artist you need to compose, to write, to be an entertainer. I wanted to feature everything I could possibly do – all around as a complete person. I wanted to get an authentic sound, to have it recorded in a certain way, so it took time – all the instruments are live. There are no programmed drums; it’s all done live in the studio. I added vocals and since that is a lead position it took time. I like that every song has a different vibration to it. I wanted to create something for everybody.”
I think Motema Music is a perfect label match for Lakecia. She agreed: “When I was about to make the record, without even hearing it Jana [Herzen, President of Motema Music] believed in it. She had seen me play around some and had a lot of confidence in me from the beginning and Motema really stands behind their artists – letting the music speak for itself. They don’t just package, brand the music, sell it for a while and then move on. Motema is really into quality music and longevity and they support their artists so they can achieve that.”
Lakecia Benjamin and SoulSquad will take the stage at Le Poisson Rouge June 12th to celebrate the release of Retox. SoulSquad on this night will include Chris Robb (keys) and Nick Roseboro (trumpet), Brian Cockerham (bass), Joe Blaxx (drums), Jamiel Cornielo (guitar), Brandee Younger (harp), Jonathan Powell (trumpet) and guest trombonist Jonathon Aarons. Two vocalists featured on Retox will join Lakecia and SoulSquad – Tracey Nicole and Maya Azucena. Guest artists will be Jean Baylor of Zhane, Vickie Natale, Collette and Raydar Ellis. DJ Center will be spinning before and after the band takes the stage. The evening promises to be raw, magnetic and all the way live. The joy on Lakecia’s face when she performs reveals how much she loves what she does and how deeply she admires and respects the musicians she shares the stage with.
If you make it to the show, close your eyes and tell me you aren’t reminded of Sly and the Family Stone on The Midnight Special stage back in the day. The beauty lies in the fact that she’s just getting started, so buy the album, get a ticket, and buckle up.
Le Poisson Rouge,
158 Bleecker Street, NYC
TIX adv. $12 / Day of Show $15