Lakecia Benjamin PHOTO: ELIZABETH LEITZELL
Lakecia Benjamin is a saxophonist impossible to categorize. Though best known for her work in jazz, she has performed with hip-hop musicians such as DJ Premier and Missy Elliott as well as soul stars Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys. A Manhattanite out of Washington Heights, Benjamin’s latest CD, released on March 27 of this year, is a tribute to Alice and John Coltrane, the most remarkable married couple in the history of jazz. While Benjamin’s 2020 touring plans were knocked out by the pandemic, she is keeping busy and planning ahead. Resiliency is a hallmark of her music and serves to inspire those listening in. The Banner caught up with her from her place in New Rochelle, New York.
Your latest CD is called “Pursuance: The Coltranes.” You’ve spoken about pursuance as “a striving to get to that place of spirituality epitomized by the work of the Coltranes — trying to get to heaven every time I play.” Can you say a little bit about how that striving takes place in your work?
I think that there are a couple of ways to look at this. Both Coltranes practiced 12 to 15 hours a day. So taking that as a start: Practice as much as you need so that you can play what’s in your head. Then, too,