Credits and About
Ben Wendel Saxophone, Bassoon, EFX
Shai Maestro Piano and Fender Rhodes
Gerald Clayton Piano and Fender Rhodes
Michael Mayo Voice & EFX
Joe Sanders Double Bass
Nate Wood Drums
Music composed by Ben Wendel
Produced by Ben Wendel
Executive producer Dave Stapleton
Ben Wendel currently plays the KB Saxophone Vanguard Neck, Boston Sax Shop reeds and ligature.
Nate Wood endorses Gretsch Drums, Istanbul Agop Cymbals, Remo Drumheads, Promark Sticks and Drum Workshop Hardware.
Gerald Clayton is a Yamaha artist and appears courtesy of Blue Note Records. Yamaha CFX provided courtesy of Yamaha Artist Services, New York
Joe Sanders plays D'addario Strings and AKG Microphones.
Mixed by Nate Wood.
Mastered by Nate Wood at Kerseboom Mastering NY.
Artwork design by Oli Bentley, Split.
Photos by Shervin Lainez and Dave Stapleton
High Heart is the 5th album by US saxophonist and composer Ben Wendel. With a surge of interest in his profile over the last few years, Ben returns with an album that is his most definitive yet.
It is a personal statement and reflection of his own journey in a society of increasing complexity, oversaturation, and social imbalance. An album that opens discussion and raises questions about how artists create art that is personal and meaningful in an increasingly impersonal time.
As Ben explains: “The digital age has created a profound paradigm shift and challenged what it means to be an artist. It has potentially democratized culture to the point of irrelevance. There is no longer high or low – culture or entertainment – it has become about relevance or irrelevance. What is the best way to navigate this time while retaining a sense of authenticity, vulnerability and identity? Although this is a fundamental question for artists in any era, it feels particularly difficult to answer at the moment. In this sense, High Heart is more a question than a statement.
The song titles in this project refer to different challenges I have experienced while interfacing with a global audience. For example, “Drawn Away” refers to the dangers of technological overuse and losing perspective, while “High Heart” speaks to the human desire to connect and express through these new mediums at the risk of feeling isolated and cut off.
Ultimately, High Heart is a project of hope, and for me, a focused and personal message in a time where it has become harder for all artists to find their way through the noise.”
* Coloured Vinyl Album
“With his technical fluency, strategic melodic thinking and cleanly dusted tone, Wendel has become an idol to an entire generation of young tenor saxophone students”. The New York Times
About the Artwork
About the Artwork
The artwork, designed by British designer, Oli Bentley, beautifully incorporates the message that drives the whole album. Each and every cover of the Ltd Edition Coloured Vinyl run will be individually hand painted. As Oli explains: “We talked a lot about the themes of the record and the dilemma of how to connect in a genuine way, not just artist to fan – but human to human – at this time. Ben’s music – and this record in particular – does this so well. My challenge was to rise to the level of his creative statement, and to complement it with the visual artwork. How could we make something special, something personal? This is where the idea of personalising every sleeve was born.
During our first (ironically digital) meeting one evening, without me knowing, my 5-year-old son had crept out of bed and slipped a postcard under the door for me. On it was drawn a simple, black line-drawing of a heart. The simplicity and innocence of the symbol, its link to the title we had just been discussing, and the human connection it made through a closed door – I knew there wasn’t anything I could possibly bring to this project that was more personal or contained more humanity than this”.
“With his technical fluency, strategic melodic thinking and cleanly dusted tone, Wendel has become an idol to an entire generation of young tenor saxophone students”.
The New York Times
"Ben Wendel has given us a standout album that is at once challenging, inspiring, and an advance—but most importantly, one that lives up to its title.”
All About Jazz