About Steven Feifke & Benny Benack III
Steven Feifke and Benny Benack III don’t have a typical arranger-singer relationship. That’s because they’re not just a typical arranger or singer — Benny also is an incredible trumpet player who writes his own lead sheets for his quartet, and Steven is an incredible pianist and composer (check out his recently released big band album, Kinetic). Thus, it’s not “singer who stands in front and has nothing to do with composing” and “arranger who just cranks out charts without any artist preferences.” Their album, Seasons Swinging Greetings, showcases the intertwining talents of composing, arranging, and writing lyrics.
For instance, Steven tweaked the form on Benny’s original song “My Girlfriend is an Elf.” Normally, he’s much more conservative about changing the form of someone’s song. But because he and Benny are such close friends, he wasn’t afraid to propose the change that made the orchestration line up better. When Steven was hitting a wall for the lyrics on his original composition “When Christmas Time Comes Around,” he turned to Benny. Benny listened to Steven’s idea and found the words to bring the story to life. They help complete each other’s musical ideas without sacrificing the original vision.
From Roommates to Artistic Collaboration
This rare musical partnership was forged from years of living as roommates. Benny remembers the days when Steven was so busy writing charts that he would only emerge from his room to make more coffee. Finally, after three days he would sit on the couch with a sigh of relief and say, “I just had to arrange 12 big band charts.” Steven remembers when Benny would come home from a gig and immediately begin practicing again. It’s one thing if you’re getting home from a gig at 7pm. When you get home from a gig at 11pm — that means you’re practicing until two or three in the morning. Clearly, they both have an outstanding drive and work ethic.
Listen to the full interview with Steven Feifke and Benny Benack III to learn more about their latest album, Seasons Swinging Greetings. They talk about the inspiration behind their original tunes, why they were excited about including several Hanukkah songs, and what they love about working together. Plus, they share their favorite holiday traditions and we debate about which Christmas movie is better: Elf or Home Alone.
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