Voted 'Rising Star' flutist in Downbeat Magazine's 62nd Annual Critics Poll

"Don't Blink" is in the can! 

Whoo hoo! The Ben Kono Group had a great two days at Paul Wickliffe's studio in Hampton, NJ recording the complete suite "Don't Blink", commissioned by Chamber Music America: New Jazz Works Grant and funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The peaceful rural environment (including a family of deer!) stoked our creative energies and we have something we think you'll find very different and rewarding to listen to. Thanks to the band--Pete, Henry, Satoshi, and Kermit--for making the long hall, and to Paul for getting us great sounds. Special thanks to Henry for the three-flight walkup in the East Village with a newly restored vintage Fender Rhodes--the sound was worth it!

Shapeshifting, Mixing, Relaxing, and RIsing in July 

Thanks to everybody who came out to our second installment of "Don't Blink: A CMA New Jazz Works Commission" at Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn last month, and hope you are all enjoying the summer! We seem to have escaped the 'dog days' here out east but, returning from a family trip out west, I can attest that California is indeed in the midst of a terrible drought. I spent a good many hours chilling in my mother-in-law's 'swamp cooler' mixing the multitrack recording of our concert while my daughter played in the pool under the baking sun. Nothing like mixing a record to get intimate with your bandmates! Thanks to Kermit Driscoll, Satoshi Takeishi, Pete McCann and Mike Holober for some slamming performances. I hope to post the mixed and edited performances on this site very soon. I should also mention what a great experience it was to perform at Shapeshifter Lab, they are very artist-friendly, provide some nice services like recording and video, and the tech crew make things much easier when you're running around madly trying to set things up. Thanks so much to Fortuna Sung, Matthew Garrison, and "Kiwi" for making that happen, and to my good friend JC Sanford for sharing the bill.

Nice to 'exhale' after a lot of hard work this spring. Sometimes, though, a little surprise can come out of the blue. In perusing the August issue of DownBeat Magazine, I noticed my name in the "Rising Star: flute" category of the annual critics' poll! I'm not sure how these things work, but it's nice to see my name alongside Sam Most and Kent Jordan, although honestly I should think they would be in the "established artist" category. Anyway, regardless of what you think of polls (obviously there are many omissions) "Rising Star" is better than "Sinking Stone" and congrats to all those whose contributions were noticed (including longtime friend and Ben Kono Group member Henry Hey).

Coming up: New recording sessions and concerts planned for Ed Palermo Big Band, Chris Zuar, and a concert in Israel with saxophonist Eli Degibri. Happy summer to you!

Nineteen-Eight Holiday Sale and end-of-year wrap-up 

Hello friends, and seasons' greetings!

In the spirit of the season, the good folks over at Nineteen-Eight Records are offering a sweet deal on all of their records, including "Crossing" released this year by your's truly. For a limited time only, they are offering every single cd in their catalog for only $7 each. This special holiday pricing will last through the rest of December only and will end on January first. You can see the limited-time pricing adjusted on each artist page. This pricing only applies to physical CDs and is only available at Nineteen-Eight. If you already have "Crossing", perhaps you know some else who may enjoy it (…just saying'…!) or perhaps check out some of the other fantastic releases from this year. Either way, can't go wrong with great music!

"Crossing" has had some fine reviews over the year including some recent end-of-the-year press:

'CROSSING' TOP DEBUT ALBUM OF 2011--Jazz Journalists Association

BEST OF 2011

"The first time I listened to "Crossing" (Nineteen-Eight), the debut CD by multi-reed player Ben Kono, the music stopped me cold. Not only does Kono play a slew of instruments (oboe, english horn, flute, alto flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone and shakuhachi), his compositions and arrangements are strikingly good. Supported by the rhythm section of John Hollenbeck (drums) and John Hebert (bass) plus the fine keyboard work of Henry Hey and soaring electric guitar of Pete McCann (his acoustic work is also excellent), Kono creates an aural auto-biography that is as moving as it is musical. His wife, Heather Laws, adds vocals and french horn to several tracks. What a debut!"--Step Tempest


"Kono is one of the stal­wart ses­sion men on the New York scene, from Broad­way to the stel­lar big bands of Darcy James Argue and John Hol­len­beck. His ver­sa­til­ity as a player comes through on Cross­ing in a rich range of musi­cal think­ing; all the pieces are his own, and his writ­ing makes excel­lent use of word­less voice, french horn, and his own ter­rific flute and double-reed play­ing. His writ­ing makes the band, with Heather Laws the afore­men­tioned singer/horn player, Henry Hey on piano, gui­tarist Pete McCann, John Hébert on bass and drum­mer Hol­len­beck, sound enor­mous. The musi­cal ideas come out of the con­tem­po­rary legacy of sophis­ti­cated, inter­na­tion­ally tinged jazz com­po­si­tion and orches­tra­tion, make use of the best lessons from the likes of Pat Metheny as well as his own col­leagues. Kono places an empha­sis on melody, and is a real crafts­man, shift­ing his lovely lines through dif­fer­ent tex­tures and har­monies, com­bin­ing sec­tions that seem like bits of songs into larger forms and never los­ing track of where he has come from and where he is going."--The Big City Blog

Looking forward to some great things in 2012 and I hope to see you at some of them! Thanks for listening and for your continued support, I wish you all the best for the holidays and the new year.


Ben Kono Group at Shapeshifter Lab, 6/24/14

Ben Kono Group: Simon and the Monk/River of Fire