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Ben Koen  

musician, composer, saxophone, wind instruments, reviewer (music), U.S.A.

Jazz CD:

Reliance, 1997   list of tracks

Ben Koen

Tenor saxophonist/composer/multi-instrumentalist Ben Koen is carving a unique place for himself in music. He has performed in over 30 countries and territories of the world, including being part of New York City's cutting edge creative music scene...

...O Son of Spirit! follows with a South African feel which is created by a kind of Algerian 6/8 rhythm on the drums. Again one can hear a similiar contour of ascending and returning -the foundation is sung, then repeated by the saxophone, followed by each instrument being sequentially added to create an ensemble sound rising to a celebratory height then returning to the place it began...

Excerpt from a Review by Sonja van Kerkhoff in Arts Dialogue, June 2002.

...On the "Reliance" CD by American Jazz saxophonist Ben Koen and the Unity Ensemble, the first and last tracks are from a session of which there are more on the CD "110 Bridge Street". Ben Koen is a competent musician in a variety of music. Check out his latest CD, "Songs From Green Mountain" where he plays meditative runs on number of flutes. The Reliance CD is not just straight jazz (if there is such a thing) but rather a CD with 3 distinctive and diverse musical styles. The first and final tracks are a saxophone and trombone ( with Joe Fiedler) duo being played using circular breathing to create an evocative and subliminal soundscape. Then there are a number of Coltrane-like improvisational jazz numbers where rhythm and melody constantly play off each other creating a sense of intense passion. In the middle of all this are two jazz-like settings of the Hidden Words. "O Son of Spirit" is first sung a cappela. Then the saxophone repeats the melody with each of the four instruments coming into each cycle of the melody to add rhythmic complexity to a piece that started out as a simple melody. As a listener you can try and focus on the original melody as the piece becomes more improvisational or your can just go with the flow. It is a sensitive musical compliment/interpretation for words about where we should begin in order to develop spiritually (ie: My first counsel is this. Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart).

Koen's compositions use improvisational twists and turns not just to embellish the melody but to create dancing worlds of rhythm and melody within other worlds of rhythm and melody. The title of Koen's band the "Unity Ensemble" was inspired by Dizzy Gillespie's own band called the "United Nations Orchestra"...

Arts Dialogue, June 2002, pages 5 and 6.


110 Bridge St., 1999   list of tracks

...the extended compositions with the interesting harmonies between the trombone and reeds and the definition of the individual voices...
At which point Ed Ware mentioned something about compositional conciseness, which seemed an appropriate description of what was going on...

Joe Fiedler (1965) and Ben Koen (1969) have been working together for the past 4 years while Ed Ware (1962) joined about 6 months prior to this recording. It is a wonderfully intuitive and apt combination and makes harmonious extemporizing look easy on music which seems, in large part, to be coming from the outside in, often conveying the sense of a musical haiku.

Produced by Creative Improvised Music Projects, NY, U.S.A.
for ordering or more info see: or email:

music for devotional use:

Songs From Green Mountain, 1999   list of tracks

Sung and spoken prayers and texts from the Bahá´í Writings and,
Xiao (Chinese bamboo flute), cedarwood flute, quena (Peruvian wooden flute), bansuri (Bamboo flute of India), tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, rain sticks (from Brazil and Chile), Chinese bras bowls, Tibetan cymbals, African wooden chimes, wind caller, Mexican frame drum, djembe (African drum), high voice, low multiphonic voice, streams, waterfalls and rain recorded live...

All compositions by Ben Koen except for Alláhumma, Yá Subbúh, Yá Quddús by Bijan Khadem-Missagh, arranged by Ben Koen. 16 tracks.

Produced by Ben Koen, U.S.A.
for ordering or more info see:

order the CDs from Ben at
Info about Ben's music
Review in Italian.

Ben Koen
Ben Koen, 1995.

Excerpts from an interview in 1995 to come.

Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands