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  Composer Profiles

Joseph Benzola

Joseph Benzola Joseph Benzola
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Joseph Benzola

Click here Interview for RealAudio G2 mono version of comments by the composer, 2:00. RA 14.4 version
Click here Music for RealAudio G2 stereo version of A Work in Progress, 2:18
Click here Music for RealAudio G2 stereo version of Bodhidharma, 6:23
Click here Music for RealAudio G2 stereo version of Kurt & Jaco, 6:43
Click here Music for RealAudio G2 stereo version of Sound of One Hand Clapping Part VIII, 3:24
Click here Music for RealAudio G2 stereo version of Sun Ra, 8:44
Click here Music for RealAudio G2 stereo version of Undercurrent, 11:37


Joseph Benzola has his own home page. It is here: http://www.homemademusic.com/artists/amanita

Joseph Benzola is an independent multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer living in New York. He does not conform to one discipline, idiom, or theory, but embraces all types of musics and playing philosophies.

Outside of both the traditional musical academy and the music industry, Joseph Benzola is creating some of the most exciting and innovative music in the realm of creative improvisation.

As George Zahora states in his 1996 article about Benzola and his label Amanita Music:

Joseph Benzola Joseph Benzola

Benzola's music is unrestrained; not only is it clearly capable of going almost anywhere, one can be fairly certain that it WILL pursue some seemingly-unpredictable tangent. It is not chaotic, but a first time listener might not catch this right away. Amanita Music requires a certain perspective; when one can see the musical "big picture", apparent chaos resolves itself to be part of a greater plan made obvious by scale. Thus Benzola's music grows neither randomly nor via written notes, but by a unique, logical progression the eventual understanding of which can be highly rewarding for the listener-just the sort of mind-expanding experience of which Benzola speaks, as if music is an eminently more elegant analog of higher mathematics.

He does not see a dichotomy between written or improvised, acoustic or electric, real time or sequenced, jazz, classical, rock, world music, etc. Instead, he sees theses various visions as tools for his own unique musical concepts. The music of Benzola does not keep various disciplines placed in separate boxes, but rather allows the ideas of Sun Ra, Coltrane, Miles, Monk, and Taylor to dance with Africa, India, Bali, Cage, Xenakis, Stockhausen, and Varese.

Joseph Benzola
Joseph Benzola at the American Music Center with K&D

The unifying center to his musical/sound universe is the gathering of these concepts in a creative improvised setting; how various sound/musical environments can co-exist in seemingly unrelated manners. There is a very free use of rhythm. Many times, the rhythm/flow of a piece will dictate all other elements to follow. So, rhythm is not used as a straight "four on the floor" dance center, but rather draws all sound/musical elements into its flow.

As Benzola himself states:

To me, rhythm is not just a pattern but a flow, a contour. For example, the playing of Rashied Ali, Sunny Murray and Milford Graves exemplify this concept. This is true for other instruments as well... Melody to me is not synonymous with melifluous. Most people think of "melody" as "pretty". Melody to me is just the rhythmic relations of notes. Without rhythm and contours, there is no melody. Harmony is just the relationship between groups of notes either in rhythm, melody, timbre or sound.

His use of juxtaposed sound objects and counter rhythms and timbres is quite stimulating and evoacative. Benzola also uses the creative principles in various world traditions to further his musical journey. As Walter Horn states in his review in Cadence:

...The variety of exotic atmospheres that Benzola creates is quite impressive, and his use of hollow and nasal reeds and percussion to design African or Mideast imagery is often compelling. There certainly is a trippiness to Benzola's best work....he is a capable sonic architect and an imaginative drummer.


Recordings:

Joseph Benzola The Sound of One Hand Clapping
Joseph Benzola Third Ear
Joseph Benzola Reflections
Joseph Benzola Serenity

To reach the composer:
On-line: amanitamusic@systec.com
By telephone: +1-516-567-3305
By fax:
By physical mail: