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MJF66, Sept. 22-24, 2023


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© Elizabeth Leitzell
Lakecia Benjamin & Phoenix
  • Grounds Artist
  • Saturday, September 23 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm Garden Stage Presented By Alaska Airlines

2023 Monterey Jazz Festival Artist-in-Residence
Lakecia Benjamin will also appear with the 2023 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra on Sunday, September 24 at 12:30pm on the Jimmy Lyons Stage in the Arena.

Voted as the winner of the 2020 DownBeat Critics Poll for “Rising Star Alto Saxophonist” and “Up and Coming Artist of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association, the Monterey Jazz Festival’s 2023 Artist-in-Residence, charismatic and dynamic saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin, fuses traditional conceptions of jazz, hip-hop, and soul. Benjamin’s electric presence and fiery sax work has shared stages with several legendary artists, including Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Macy Gray, and The Roots.

Lakecia is a also key member of MJF on Tour — Celebrating 65, now appearing across the United States for 25 shows in January and April 2023.

A streetwise New York City native born and raised in Washington Heights, Lakecia Benjamin first picked up the saxophone at Fiorello LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts. From there she joined the renowned jazz program at New York’s New School University. However, even at that early stage, Benjamin was already playing with renowned jazz figures like Clark Terry and Reggie Workman, who introduced her to opportunities to play and tour with an array of artists such as Rashied Ali, Christian McBride, Gregory Porter, and James “Blood” Ulmer. With her deep jazz roots, she was soon in demand as an arranger and horn section leader, landing stints with such acclaimed artists as Anita Baker.

Lakecia Benjamin’s 2020 album, Pursuance, is an intergenerational masterpiece that takes one on a journey through the lineage of the music with the works of John and Alice Coltrane. Benjamin pays homage to those who have come before by featuring innovative bandleaders of her generation, such as Reggie Workman (co-producer and bass), Ron Carter, Gary Bartz, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Meshell Ndegeocello, Regina Carter, Bertha Hope, The Last Poets, Greg Osby, Steve Wilson, John Benitez, Marc Cary, Marcus Gilmore, Keyon Harrold, Marcus Strickland, Brandee Younger, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Jazzmeia Horn.

Phoenix, her latest and fourth studio album, was released January 27, 2023 on Whirlwind Recordings. The far-reaching new album finds the tour-de-force saxophonist in a poised and profoundly individual position alongside an all-star cast of musicians. The highly-anticipated expansive new album was produced by the multi-Grammy Award-winning Terri Lyne Carrington and features a star-studded lineup of specially curated guests including Dianne Reeves, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Patrice Rushen, Sonia Sanchez, Angela Davis, and Wayne Shorter. The band is composed of trumpeter Josh Evans, Victor Gould on keys, Orange Rodriguez on synths, drummer Enoch Jamal (E.J.) Strickland, percussionist Nêgah Santos, and bassist Ivan Taylor. Trumpeter Wallace Roney Jr., Anastassiya Petrova on Fender Rhodes/organ, and bassist Jahmal Nichols all join for one track each.

Lakecia is endorsed by Vandoren, Yanagisawa, Key Leaves, Sennheiser, and Conn & Selmer.