Daniel Bennett, multi-instrumentalist and leader of the Daniel Bennett Group, and his bandmates Nat Janoff, Eddy Khaimovich and Matthew Feick are dedicated to passing along an appreciation for music. That’s one of the chief reasons they’ll be playing a jazz clinic at George Mason High School next Thursday, Oct. 29.
“You’ve got to keep people interested in the arts and it’s a positive thing for everyone. It’s a win-win and and it’s collaborative,” Bennett said. “When we do school clinics when we’re touring we don’t really think of it as ‘Oh, we’ve gotta go into this school and do all this heavy lifting and teach students how to do these basic things.’ We don’t look at it that way. For us, it’s about really connecting with people one-on-one.”
Bennett teaches jazz improvisation at the New York Jazz Academy, Janoff (guitar) teaches private lessons, as does Khaimovich (bass) and Feick (drums) is on the faculty at the Long Island City Academy of Music and Ivy Music School. So teaching, along with touring (they’re playing a gig at Alexandria’s Duncan Library the day before the clinic at Mason), is what they do.
This clinic is different from some of the others they’ve done in the past, because Mason’s music program is high-caliber – last year Mason’s wind ensemble received superior ratings at the Virginia Band & Orchestra Directors Association District X Band Assessment. Also, 11 Mason students auditioned into the District X honor band.
Bennett said that he reached out to Mary Jo West, one of Mason’s band directors and a 2013 nominee for the Grammy Music Educator Award, to set up the clinic. He said that she runs a great program and has music students who are serious about their craft.
“It’s like you’re meeting them eye-to-eye, one-on-one and hopefully inspiring them to go into the arts or to appreciate the arts,” Bennett said.
The Daniel Bennett Group are based in New York City, but they aren’t strangers to the Mid-Atlantic region. They regularly play shows in the DMV and Tidewater regions.
“It’s a great scene….The whole D.C. area – there’s so much music there,” Bennett said. “We just find ourselves touring through there a lot. We come through the D.C. area at least four or five times a year.”
The group is traveling to Norfolk after their show and clinic in this region and they had a CD release party for their latest album, The Mystery at Clown Castle, at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club at the beginning of September.
The Mystery at Clown Castle is Daniel Bennett Group’s sixth album, but they were recently voted Best New Jazz Group in Hot House Jazz Magazine. As a result, Daniel Bennett Group recently played on NPR, an opportunity Bennett said the group is grateful for.
“Winning the award has created some cool opportunities,” Bennett said. “There’s a lot of different things happening at once, but it’s fun.”
Daniel Bennett Group has a tour run in the Midwest in early December before getting back into the studio to record another album in December and Bennett is consistently involved New York’s theatre scene, playing music and scoring for multiple productions. So the group’s busy.
“You have to wear a bunch of different hats and try to keep a lot of things going at once,” Bennett said. “But it’s a blast. It’s fun.”
• For more information about Daniel Bennett Group, visit danielbennettgroup.com.