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Press & Excerpted Reviews


RPOTB Paster, Ryan & Hall Grupo Yanqui Organic! Teaching

Critical Praise for Bennett Paster’s

RADIANCE

“There’s a wonderful ‘down home’ feel about [I Remember Nat] that takes me back to my earliest adventures in jazz… absolute groove, folks… Flawless recording and high-energy trio talent make this one of the most fascinating albums I’ve listened to (yet) in 2023… HIGHLY RECOMMENDED”
-Dick Metcalf, Contemporary Fusion Reviews

“Rich with creativity and basted in ‘the blues.’ … “Radiance” is a continuation of Bennett Paster’s passion for playing and composing. He consistently gathers a variety of excellent players. Together, they continue to perpetuate the legacy and value of jazz music and peace on earth.”
-Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memoirs

INDIVISIBLE

“A very fine keyboardist and pianist, Bennett Paster grows by leaps and bounds with every project.  On his new CD Indivisible, he doesn’t synthesize his influences, but rather turns every composition into his own private vision of blues, mainstream jazz, funk, New Orleans and beyond… He displays bebop sensibilities while reserving the best of his immense talents for a sense of teamwork.”

MGN, Hot House Magazine

“Deeply moving grooving jazz”

Dick Metcalf, Contemporary Fusion Reviews

“For his latest, keyboard ace [Bennett Paster] wants to underscore that the groove is everywhere and it can’t be separated no matter how you try to separate the genres.  He proves his point mightily. With loads of swing throughout, his jazz isn’t always purely jazz but it’s welcome no matter to which extremes he takes it. Tasty and assured throughout, this is jazz that’s always welcome.  Well done.​”

Chris Spector, Midwest Record

“A pianist-organist virtuoso… fun grooves…and smooth interplay between the musicians…timeless elegance and shimmering grace… highly danceable… A universally enjoyable and intriguing affair of solo filled and carefully constructed fusion of blues, country, funk, surf, and others on this charmingly entertaining album.”

Tom Haugen, Take Effect Reviews

“Paster is a keyboardist, producer and arranger-composer who loves being eclectic. You’ll hear echoes of Monk and Hancock to New Orleans pianists like James Booker and soul men like Ramsey Lewis on Indivisible, a wide ranging set of music performed by his core trio and some contributing guests on guitar, tenor and percussion. It’s a wild mix of ensemble work and colorful solos… Paster’s… got a groove going on these catchy tunes. He may not be consciously reaching back to that early soul jazz, [but it] comes naturally to him and it sounds every bit as good.”

Jim Hynes, makingascene.org

“Bennett Paster has deep, blues roots and you hear it right from the very first musical phrases of [Indivisible].  This is a smokin’ hot stew of good music, flavorful composing and tasty interaction by the musicians. They fit together tightly and comfortably like knife and fork. Their cohesive sound is delicious. Not only is Paster proficient as a pianist, organist, producer, composer and arranger, he’s also a masterful studio engineer. On this recording he captures a happiness and joy that is contagious…Here is jazz/funk music that entertains and inspires movement, dance and exultation.”

Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memoirs

“A glance at the track list of Indivisible, jazz keyboardist Bennett Paster’s new album, will tell you there is something of a lighthearted attitude here. Several of the tracks have playful titles – “Blues For Youse,” “(Givin’ The People) What We Want,” “A Beastly Beauty” – and from those you get the sense that Bennett Paster and the other musicians are enjoying themselves. And listening to the album, that certainly seems to be the case. There is a levity, a joviality to these tracks, which of course is not to say these aren’t serious musicians…Paster’s keys seem to dance, moving along with a carefree attitude, spreading cheer as if it were a physical object to be distributed to the populace. Wonderful stuff… Feels like a party!”

Michael Doherty,  Michael’s Music Log

“Bring your dancing shoes to this one.”

George W. Harris, Vintage Pulses

Critical Praise for Bennett Paster’s

Relentless Pursuit of the Beautiful

Download a pdf of complete reviews of RPOTB

A jazz piano man and his downtown pals show jazz is alive and well in Brooklyn as they flex their contemporary jazz wings in a program that offers diversity without being jarring as they move through the grooves. Well honed, nice stuff that is right on the money sitting down jazz that you don’t have to relegate to the background.

Chris Spector, 2/6/13 www.midwestrecord.com

Depth and maturity are evident traits heard in Paster’s compositions. His writing blends concrete thematic material into a thick harmonic base, mindful of the individual flavorings brought forth by his band mates. [The disc] features Paster in a dazzling display of technique and boundless creativity.

John Barron, 2/9/13 thejazzword blog

On his official website, pianist Bennett Paster describes the music on his new album Relentless Pursuit of the Beautiful as integrating “swing with Latin and Brazilian rhythms to forge a contemporary, accessible style.” … “’The Beautiful’ to which the title refers,” he explains on his site, “isn’t traditional aesthetic beauty, rather it’s honest musical expression from within. This expression forms the core of my sound. It incorporates a wide spectrum of emotions using sonic textures and colors which create a picture of life through music.” He goes on to reject the excessive complexity of much of modern music, in favor of something simpler—music that looks for the shortest distance between “inspiration and its expression.” If that’s what he is pursuing, he’s found it…. Talk about beautiful. This is it.

Jack Goodstein, 2/13/13 blogcritics.org

Bennett Paster and Relentless Pursuit Of The Beautiful is a bold yet subtle look at the simple beauty of melody and where the aesthetics can transcend genre space and time with a formidable septet that sounds far more intimate than what the traditional size may probably dictate. I hate to use the phrase the “zen like quality of less is more” but it simply fits as well or better with this release than with any I may have heard over the past year. The all most simplistic presentation of the beauty of a melody surrounded by the carefully placed nuances of individuals such as Joel Fraham on tenor saxophone and special guest Gilad on percussion add layers of three dimensional texture while still allowing the music to take center stage. The vibe here is decidedly Latin and Brazilian rhythms but deconstructed for a far more organic presentation than what most audiences may be looking for or familiar with but the end result is spot on.

Brent Black, 2/27/13 criticaljazz.com

…modern jazz, but without either the self-conscious avant-gardism or the novelty-for-novelty’s-sake that too often characterizes projects falling into that category. Tightly-written horn charts, expansive but logical chord changes, and a constant focus on listenability characterize virtually everything on this album—yet none of it sounds easy or pandering either. Highly recommended.

Rick Anderson, 3/4/13 http://cdhotlist.com

I found Paster’s writing to be very accessible and yet quite adventurous. There’s some serious creativity going on here, and it seems to represent the road being taken by a number of younger players who keep things in the mainstream yet make very fresh and often quite exciting music.

George Fendel, 3/15/13 jsojazzscene

 

Relentless Pursuit of the Beautiful is a powerful glimpse of Paster’s search for honest self-expression through original, creative artistry. On this album full of dynamic moments covering a wide range of emotions and styles, this solid ensemble date no doubt compels Paster forward toward his goal, the main payoff of which will not be an end or arrival, but the committed and compelling journey en route—a journey well worth listening to and sharing with him.

Mark Lomanno, 4/22/13 rhythmofstudy.com

Bennett Paster – RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF THE BEAUTIFUL: There truly is nothing more wonderful (in jazz or any other art form) than original compositions that go after the heart of the music with no holding back – & that’s just what Bennett & his crew do with Paster’s great piano at the forefront on this 9-song instant classic CD! Tunes like the searing “Scraper” will stick in your head for months (if not years) to come… rhythm changes abound on this one, & it’s just like that “old school” jazz I cut my teeth on. Recording is flawless, and tunes like the beautiful “Lewinparie” (my personal favorite on the album) make this album one you won’t “lose” in the stacks – it will stay right up at the top of your playlists. I give Bennett & his players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for this winner – “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.99.

Rotcod Zzaj, 6/30/13 rotcodzzaj.com


Critical Praise for Paster, Ryan & Hall’s

Invisible Horizon

Bennett Paster’s effort with this trio [is] a most exciting listen, for he is certainly avoiding clichés while taking the masters to heart, and forging his own personal brand of modern music. Paster wrote [five] of these pieces including “Bunzo Bean,” which inexplicably sounds like a Bill Evans’ take of “Watch What Happens.” A brisk, quick waltz time identifies “The Wild Kitties,” and tenor saxophonist Chris Cheek joins the band for “Epiphany” and the bright, bouncy title track. There’s no wasted motion with an effortless, clean, smooth dynamic throughout, but Paster takes some chances interpreting standards. “Sweet & Lovely” uses a modal arrangement and a stretched melody, “East of the Sun” atypically bops and bounces with a hip contemporary rhythm, while bassist Gregory Ryan fronts the lead line of “Everything I Love.” Ryan and drummer Keith Hall are equal partners in this democratic trio, each adding three compositions collectively, [Paster]’s heavy spirit song “Dark Day” being the most noticeable. As a collection this CD stands up well upon repeated listenings… showing plenty of promise for Paster and his mates to make a definitive statement of new jazz somewhere along the road. (****)

Michael G. Nastos, AllMusic.com, 2006

Critical Praise for Paster, Ryan & Hall’s

Skyline

“Let the sidemen have their say. These rising players have collectively amassed an impressive list of credits behind jazz notables. But one thing is clear: They’ve definitely found their musical soul mates in each other. On their own indie release, pianist Paster, bassist Ryan and drummer Keith Hall radiate warmth, vitality, robust melodicism, and an effortless swing. All three contribute strong writing, and Paster’s ballad, “If I Said Goodbye,” is a gem. With a nimble, grooving, ‘melodic’ touch, Hall knows how to tell a story. Elegant.” (*****1/2 out of a possible 5)

Jeff Potter, Modern Drummer, September, 2005

“Part of the appeal throughout [Skyline] is Paster’s willingness, within a mainstream framework, to take chances. He and the trio sound relaxed, optimistic, vivacious, and Paster’s hands have an infectious percussive exuberance. A beautifully melodic effort, start to finish. “

Dan McClenaghan, AllAboutJazz.com, March, 2005

“[Bennett Paster’s trio CD Skyline] with bassist Gregory Ryan and drummer Keith Hall features straight-ahead jazz – songs by all three members and a few standards- played with sparkle and originality.”

Paul Weideman, Santa Fe Reporter, April 28, 2005


Critical Praise for the Bennett Paster & Gregory Ryan’s

GRUPO YANQUI

“If it were somehow possible to bottle or otherwise channel the energy of this group and use it to generate electricity, the country would hardly ever need to worry about power outages. An exaggeration perhaps, but still an apt description of the heat this group generates with just five players performing at any one time. [T]here are elaborate rhythms and harmonies that take time to unfold and which are played at a tempo allowing the listener to get the full impact of each melody’s maturation process. … This album will do very well and is recommended.”

Dave Nathan, AllAboutJazz.com, February 2002

“AMG EXPERT REVIEW: Highly creative and complex original music… Involved arrangements, passionate solos, and vigorous, spontaneous interplay, all with a melodic and cosmopolitan Latin funk touch. Highly recommended.” (4 stars out of a possible 5)

David R. Adler, All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com, December 2001

“Somehow these young New York guys seem to never let you down. On Grupo Yanqui (are they the anti-Grupo Mets?) leaders Bennett Paster and Gregory Ryan showcase their hip, cerebral, groovy originals and two standards in a series of fine and energetic performances. Ryan’s “Miller Time” is a hard Latin Funk groove with an interesting and intelligent line and neat solos all around. Paster’s “Mona Se Queda” is a tight Wayne Shorter-ish thing with a really hip minor chord sequence, and the band really takes this one somewhere – into a controlled frenzy in the solos before returning to the subtle line before freaking out again at the end. It’s into the cabaret or ballroom of your choice for “How Are Things In Gloccamora?”, as the fellas cha-cha this one up quite nicely. Paster’s “Fantasy” is a showcase for his understanding of harmony, dynamics and tension and resolution and how they relate to composition. Very well done, as is this entirely refreshing recording. The group shows their sense of humor on the Bebo Valdes closer ‘Cactus Mambo’.”

Jim Josselyn, AllAboutJazz.com, January 2002

“Although a North American production, the recording has all the savory taste of the islands and the Southern Hemisphere. This band regularly heats up the temperature and lays down a bountiful dose of syncopated vibrations. It is a solid offering.”

Frank Rubolino, Cadence Magazine, April 2002

“Grupo Yanqui is headed by the young New Yorkers Bennett Paster and Gregory Ryan. They play a brand of jazz that is very much in your head. It is erudite and inventive and very, very listenable. These fine young musicians are intent on producing a hip brand of Latin Jazz drawn through the high polish of an Anglo prism. Saxophonists Terry Cabrera and Chris Cheek carry the band from one song to the next, hoisted by Paster’s full-fisted piano. Latin percussion is evident everywhere, providing the music with a salsa shiver. Grupo Yanqui is a fine start. It is about time this group be heard by a label.”

C. Michael Bailey, AllAboutJazz.com, May 2002

“If it were somehow possible to bottle or otherwise channel the energy of this group and use it to generate electricity, the country would hardly ever need to worry about power outages. An exaggeration perhaps, but still an apt description of the heat this group generates with just five players performing at any one time. [T]here are elaborate rhythms and harmonies that take time to unfold and which are played at a tempo allowing the listener to get the full impact of each melody’s maturation process. … This album will do very well and is recommended.”

Dave Nathan, AllAboutJazz.com, February 2002

“AMG EXPERT REVIEW: Highly creative and complex original music… Involved arrangements, passionate solos, and vigorous, spontaneous interplay, all with a melodic and cosmopolitan Latin funk touch. Highly recommended.” (4 stars out of a possible 5)

David R. Adler, All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com, December 2001

“Somehow these young New York guys seem to never let you down. On Grupo Yanqui (are they the anti-Grupo Mets?) leaders Bennett Paster and Gregory Ryan showcase their hip, cerebral, groovy originals and two standards in a series of fine and energetic performances. Ryan’s “Miller Time” is a hard Latin Funk groove with an interesting and intelligent line and neat solos all around. Paster’s “Mona Se Queda” is a tight Wayne Shorter-ish thing with a really hip minor chord sequence, and the band really takes this one somewhere – into a controlled frenzy in the solos before returning to the subtle line before freaking out again at the end. It’s into the cabaret or ballroom of your choice for “How Are Things In Gloccamora?”, as the fellas cha-cha this one up quite nicely. Paster’s “Fantasy” is a showcase for his understanding of harmony, dynamics and tension and resolution and how they relate to composition. Very well done, as is this entirely refreshing recording. The group shows their sense of humor on the Bebo Valdes closer ‘Cactus Mambo’.”

Jim Josselyn, AllAboutJazz.com, January 2002

“Although a North American production, the recording has all the savory taste of the islands and the Southern Hemisphere. This band regularly heats up the temperature and lays down a bountiful dose of syncopated vibrations. It is a solid offering.”

Frank Rubolino, Cadence Magazine, April 2002

“Grupo Yanqui is headed by the young New Yorkers Bennett Paster and Gregory Ryan. They play a brand of jazz that is very much in your head. It is erudite and inventive and very, very listenable. These fine young musicians are intent on producing a hip brand of Latin Jazz drawn through the high polish of an Anglo prism. Saxophonists Terry Cabrera and Chris Cheek carry the band from one song to the next, hoisted by Paster’s full-fisted piano. Latin percussion is evident everywhere, providing the music with a salsa shiver. Grupo Yanqui is a fine start. It is about time this group be heard by a label.”

C. Michael Bailey, AllAboutJazz.com, May 2002


Critical Praise for CDs by Organic!

Sweets

“If you’re a fan of improvisational, psychedelic tastiness, check out Sweets. Brooklyn’s Bennett Paster creates mellow organ work, and also shades his tracks with clavinet, Wurlitzer, piano and Nord Lead 2 using a dissonant touch that would make John Medeski proud. Highlights include “Larry the G,” a tune in which the Nord makes for a particularly cool under-water sounding interlude and the title track, which travels from shimmering organ underneath a soaring, Pink Floyd-esque guitar to hard, wah’d out Wurly. Plenty comfortable with disparate harmonic colors and expressive keyboard textures, Bennett always seems to know just when to change things up, organically (heh) shifting the groove from chill to intense, introspective to full-on-rock.”

Michael Gallant, Keyboard Magazine, February 2007

The Undoing

Keyboard Magazine Unsigned Artist of the Month: Organic! (May, 2005)

“Groovy, improvised funk and R&B instrumentals are the brainstuff of this New York city trio. While the key centers are largely static, gonzo musicianship, telepathic group interplay, and some mindbending effects combine for a thoroughly engaging listen. Like the best signed jam bands, Organic! squeezes every drop of polyphony out of their (trio) instrumentation. Keyboardist Bennett Paster spends most of his time on the Hammond organ, but visits other vintage keys as necessary. Check it out!”

Keyboard Magazine, May 2005


Reviews and Commentary about Paster’s Teaching

“[Workshops taught by Paster and Ryan] had a huge impact on the University of Arts of Belgrade, and the community music students who were directly exposed to [these] highly experienced U.S. jazz professors and artists. More than half of the workshop participants had never before played jazz, and at the final concert they very capably performed jazz in front of a large audience… The organizers of the Belgrade Summertime Jazz and Blues Festival extended an invitation to Bennett and Greg to come back to Serbia and perform at the next festival in the summer of 2007… PA Belgrade believes that, as a result of the program, more students will interested in studying at the future jazz department, thereby increasing the value and impact of this program. The spread of American jazz will greatly enhance the mutual understanding at a sensitive and important time of U.S.-Serbian relations… PA Belgrade highly recommends Bennett and Greg to other posts and believes that they would be of great benefit to performing arts and jazz artists around the world.”

Jelena Putre, Public Affairs Assistant, U.S. Embassy, Belgrade, Serbia March, 2007

“The kids really loved the performance you gave, and the response they had was a very genuine and heartfelt reaction to something that was of terrific quality and depth. Your wonderful playing was equaled by the graciousness that you and your trio showed, and the kids and teachers were captivated. Truly, it was marvelous.”

John Truitt, Director of the Music Department at Albuquerque Academy, Albuq., NM