Savannah’s Coastal Jazz Association is bringing another world-class musician to town this Sunday.
Piano wunderkind Ben Rosenblum is set to play at The Mansion on Forsyth Park. Coastal Jazz Association is most known for putting on the annual Savannah Jazz Festival. They also sponsor scholarships and other efforts to further the cause of jazz appreciation and education. Sunday’s show will feature Rosenblum accompanied by drums and bass.
New York City’s Ben Rosenblum has enjoyed uncommon success for his age. The 25-year-old pianist, composer, and accordion player already has a critically acclaimed album and numerous awards. He is touring in support of his second album, "River City."
While this will be Rosenblum’s first trip to Savannah, the title track was composed and named while performing for a competition in nearby Jacksonville, Fla. Fans of live jazz will appreciate the classic method in which the album was recorded. Rosenblum says the album was not tracked like most modern recordings.
“We recorded this most recent album in the style of a live show,” Rosenblum says. “Instead of doing multiple takes of each song at once, we recorded two full sets of us playing as if we were doing a live show and took the best takes from that.”
The title track is a sprawling dreamy piece that opens with Rosenblum’s dynamic piano traveling far and wide before the drums and bass come in to find an immediate groove. It’s fitting for the young musician whose uncommon skills have brought him all over the world.
Rosenblum’s piano has allowed him to be an ambassador of jazz from his native New York to New Delhi. He and his band relish the opportunity to travel and are currently enjoying a trip by car through the states before making a return trip to play in Japan.
“I always thoroughly enjoy traveling to new places and meeting lovers of jazz all over the world,” Rosenblum says. “In the past two years I have been booking as many out of town tours as possible for the band. The farthest we have been is Japan, where I will be going again in March, but we do a lot of traveling within the United States and Canada, as well. I organize all of the tour arrangements myself, so it is always an improvisation to see what will work and how best to route the tour given the venues that are interested in bringing our group in to perform. This tour, we are driving the whole way from city to city, which feels like a road trip!”
The demanding tour schedule will allow the band to bring a polished show to Savannah on Sunday, but Rosenblum says it is his native New York City that made the pianist what he is today.
“New York City is certainly a unique place in terms of the pace, the history, and the competition in the jazz scene,” Rosenblum says. “ As one of the bandleaders I work with is fond of saying, ‘in New York you can be replaced in an instant by any one of hundreds of amazing musicians,’ so it really inspires you to work hard and try to absorb as much as possible.”
The pianist is a graduate of the famed Columbia-Juilliard program, but the education earned in the city’s jazz clubs and alongside its elders have had an equal part in creating the accomplished performer. Rosenblum’s schooling at home along with his travels have helped nurture his intense interest in different genres of world music. He says his eclectic tastes will help create a distinctive experience for Savannah jazz fans.
“The three of us are coming from a foundation of straight-ahead jazz, so definitely expect a lot of music that feels good and comes from the tradition,” Rosenblum says. “But given our many interests in terms of genre, also expect a diverse set that varies a lot in terms of tempos, styles and structures. Some music will be original compositions and some will be songs written by other musicians, but everything we do is arranged with our particular sound, so expect music that feels familiar and unique at the same time.”