Benji Kaplan

06
Mar.
2021
2:00 AM
Benji Kaplan

The son of a Cuban father with Russian-Jewish ancestry and an Austrian mother born in NYC, Benji listened to various types of music at home and was in touch with the culture and language of his parents including the Middle East, Ladino music, jazz, Brazilian and African music. He still recalls from a very young age, his father putting on records of Clara Nunes, Beethoven, Tom Jobim, Dorival Caymmi, Canhoto da Paraiba, Sheila Chandra, Ofra Haza, Rachmaninoff, and many others. By age 15, Benji began to play professionally in clubs and for private events in the greater NY area. During this period he became ever increasingly moved to play and listen to Brazilian music. At 18, he traveled to Brazil for the first time and intensified his relationship with Brazilian music, acquiring what he felt was "a deeper spiritual understanding of this music in his whole being.” The same year Benji enrolled in The New School for Jazz and Contemporary music where he received his BFA in Jazz Guitar Performance in 2007. He has traveled North to South of Brazil and in particular is admired by Guinga (The most recognized composer in Brazil post Jobim) and has performed at the Central University of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, The legendary, Beco das Garrafas, in Rio de Janeiro, and given workshops at the Musical Center of Olinda, Brazil (Centro educação musical de Olinda) among many others. He has performed many festivals and venues around the world including; Brasil Summerfest, Musikfest, Beco das Garrafas, Dimenna Center, Dizzy's club and Birdland (Malaga),  alongside such acts as: Earth Wind and Fire, Alceu Valença, Seu Jorge, Junior Mance and Bernard Purdie, Today, Benji crafts his own brand of Neo-Classical Brazilian infused music meets late Romantic inspired compositions and arrangements. He often portrays his compositions with large and medium scale ensemble formations ranging from string quartets to wind Ensembles of varying shapes and sizes. Benji’s primary instrument and vehicle for conceiving his compositions is his nylon string acoustic guitar. He has been featured in Billboard Brasil and had his video clips screened and nominated in short film festivals around the world including TMC London film Festival, Girona Film Festival (Spain), and LA CineFest among others. With 5 critically acclaimed albums to date, Benji first released; (“Meditações no Violão”) (Guitar Meditations) Original pieces for solo guitar in 2011 - , (“Reveries em Som”) in 2015 - Featuring: Anne Drummond), …”a deep conversation between the flute and guitar weaving melodies and harmonies together that are both lyrical and otherworldly. Following his 2nd album Benji released (“Uai Sô”) in 2016. A large-scale masterpiece with varied ensembles that deeply explores the sweeping breadth of Benji’s composing and arranging. Benji's 4th album "Chorando Sete Cores": (Cries of the 7 Colored Tanager) (2018) is comprised of 13 original pieces for wind ensemble and nylon string guitar. A whimsical, humorous take on cinematic chamber music meets Villa Lobos. “The vehicle of conveyance is a chamber ensemble, as the music is through-composed, yet fully immediate. The expansive Brazilian musical landscape is the bloodline of Kaplan’s musical vision, and here choros, lullabies, sambas, maracatus and various other forms provide the core of this music – but its substance is all distinctively Benji Kaplan.” Finally, Benji released his 5th album with composer/lyricist/songwriter and animation artist, Rita Figueiredo in 2019. Cinematic and refined, Benji & Rita channels the scents and sounds, the flora and fauna of the couple’s homelands, drawing on everything from samba and baião, to waltzes and pop catchiness, much as Brazilian popular composers have over the last five decades.