10 Fingers: Casey Benjamin

by Ella Campbell

Allow me to explain what a “10 Fingers” post will be: we ask musicians ten fun and quick questions. Hopefully the answers only require one or two sentences because we know these guys have got a lot of people to talk to! With their short answers, we at Back Beat add links so that you can discover and learn from them everything they mean when they just give us the name of an album or artist.

On Friday night, Detroit was graced by the presence of the Robert Glasper Experiment. If you’ve never seen a concert in Detroit, go there. That city shows LOVE. Well, “moves love,” I suppose. The line-up included Mark Colenburg, drums; George Clint– I mean, Casey Benjamin, saxophones, vocoder and ambient laser sounds; Derrick Hodge, bass; and of course Robert Glasper, keys.

After the show I was lucky to get the chance to have a quick and light-hearted conversation Casey.

1. What is your favorite dance music? He chuckled. “Soca and ‘70s disco.” …Well that explains a lot.

2. What is your favorite thoughtful music?Todd Rundgren. He’s a folk-rock writer and producer from the ‘70s and ‘80s.”

3. What do you call the music that you play? “Good music.”

4. What music from your childhood has stuck with you? Pat Metheny: Offramp and Quincy Jones: The Dude

5. What is the first album you bought that you couldn’t stop listening to? Al B Sure: In Effect Mode

6. Name some musicians you’d like to see perform, alive or dead: “Miles. Herbie. Well, I’ve seen Herbie. Does that count? … Herbie. Roger Troutman, The Beatles, Gordon Lightfoot, Donny Hathaway. Marvin!” [note: Make sure you peep that Roger Troutman link, readers! He’s the father of the mastery of the talk-box. Check these two vids as well: Roger Troutman Interview and I Want To Be Your Man. As soon as I listened, I was like “I understaaaand.” Listen. Do it.]

7. What’s your favorite basement album? “Well, am I chillin’ in the basement with a bunch of dudes or with a girl?”
I mean a bunch of dudes, because usually I’m chillin’ in the basement with a bunch of dudes (#jazzgirlproblems), but give me an album that you’d listen to with dudes, and one that you’d listen to with girls.
“Okay. With dudes, and I don’t want to sound cliche because I’m in Detroit right now, but ‘Welcome 2 Detroit’
…He had a lot more to say about chillin’ with a girl:
“Marvin Gaye: I Want You … But I just love, love-songs. I love writing them. I love ballads.”
Well then, feel free to write the Jazz Girls at Back Beat a love-song-ballad, Casey.
“Joni Mitchell: The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Radiohead: In Rainbows, Herbie: Mr. Hands. I mean, I really just listen to songs though. I make my own albums out of them.”
So, mix-tapes.
“Yeah, mix-tapes.”
Mix-tapes and love-songs? We’re charmed.

8. What was the most profound moment you had in a private lesson or masterclass? “When I found out I have perfect pitch. I was with Weldon Irvine, who was part of Freddie Hubbard’s generation.”

9. Who is a new musician we should be looking out for?Thundercat. And me!”

10. We’re going to have a Top Ten Jazz Booties list. Are you okay with being on that list? “Wait. Male? A list of the best, male, jazz musician, booties? That’s killin’! YES! … Wait. Who else is on the list?”

The spirit of Dilla watches over Casey. Nice shirt Rob!

Even though we’re partial to #JazzGirlProblems, we couldn’t help but notice a few funny and endearing #CaseyBenjaminProblems
1. Don’ git your locks caught in your neckstrap now! #CaseyBenjaminProblems
2. Bassist is soloing. Attempt to subtly walk to the side of the stage. You just can’t hide with a glowing keytar. #CaseyBenjaminProblems
3. Decide to rap about why I’m cool.  Digable Planets becomes famous for rapping, and I don’t. #CaseyBenjaminProblems

[Readers that don’t know Digable Planets? Peep this vid for reference: Cool Like That]

Keep an eye out for these articles coming soon:
10 Fingers: Derrick Hodge
Transcriptions: Clifford Brown

Until then –
Swing sisters, swing!



  1. Fellow Jazz Girl A. Busch says: “Thanks for sharing! Casey’s #10 answer cracks me up… and I loved #CaseyBenjaminProblems. The 10 Fingers articles remind me of Blender Magazine interview questions.”

  2. Fellow Jazz Girl K. Drake says: “I am loving your blog! Seriously, it is absolutely wonderful, relevant, interesting, and informational! and obviously he wants to listen to Welcome 2 Detroit!”

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