Precollege Faculty: Jazz Arts: Violin
Benjamin Sutin began studying Suzuki violin at age five, adding piano just a few years later. His career began to blossom when he started showing an interest in jazz, just months before his 13th birthday. Soon after, Benjamin started studying privately with legendary jazz violinist, John Blake Jr., among other Philadelphia based jazz luminaries, at the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz. It wasn’t long before he developed a name for himself. You could frequently catch him on the Philly scene, whether at sessions or gigging professionally, both as a leader and sideman. Sutin has since had the privilege of performing in venues such as: Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The Apollo Theater, NJPAC, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, Lincoln Center’s Appel Room, Smoke Jazz Club, Microsoft Theater (Staples Center), the Nassau Coliseum, Oracle Center, Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, Ravinia Festival, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and Kings Theater, among many more.
As a side man, Sutin joined Bobby Sanabria’s Multiverse Big Band in 2017 for the recording of their now Grammy-nominated and Jazz Journalist Association’s “Record Of The Year” album, West Side Story Reimagined. He is now a regular member of the group, as well a frequent on-call sub for multiple salsa bands throughout NYC. In 2018, Grant Calvin Weston (Ornette Coleman’s drummer for a number of years) released his newest jazz fusion album, Dust and Ash, in which Benjamin is a featured soloist on several numbers including the title track, and is the first violinist in the album’s string section. Benjamin is also the regular violinist in the indie-rock/punk band TheyThem, and appears on their latest album, released in October 2019. Benjamin also appears on Philadelphia based-singer Kayle Brecher’s 2016 album This is Life. Other notable collaborations in the jazz world include David Amram, Ronnie Burrage, Benito Gonzalez, George Burton, Lewis Porter, Don Friedman, Justin Faulkner, Patrick Bartley Jr, Mary Ann McSweeney, Elio Villafranca, Kelly Green, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, and Luba Mason. More recently, Sutin has been getting his feet wet in the underground avante-garde free jazz scene, performing alongside the likes of Daniel Carter, Chris Tordini, Billy Mintz, Roberta Piket, and Bob Meyer.
You can frequently find Benjamin performing with Jewish pop legend Eli Schwebel, in Zhenya Lopatnik’s group, and alongside his Klezmer mentor, Yale Strom, among others. He has also played principal violin in the National Yiddish Theater’s production of Di Goldene Kale, and regularly plays violin for Shabbat Services at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, NJ alongside the great Matthew Turk. He has additionally appeared with groups such as the Big Apple Circus, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Distinguished Concerts Orchestra, Bollywood star Arijit Singh, and Banda Magda, among countless others. Also in the pop circuit, Sutin has collaborated with and recorded multiple string parts for Brasstracks and, through them, for artists such as The Underachievers and Kemba.
In 2014, Benjamin founded Klazz-Ma-Tazz which has been described by NY Music Daily as “Epically Haunting Lynchian Klezmer Jazz”. Their music, while rooted in the jazz idiom, explores a unique chemistry of worldly musical influences. They are dedicated to performing and recording original compositions and uniquely reimagined interpretations of traditional secular Jewish music, catered to the nostalgically progressive audience of the 21st century. The band has released two albums on OneTrickDog Records, both of which have been heard on radio stations across the US and around the world. Their most recent album, Meshugenah (2018), was released during City Winery’s Klezmer Brunch series which has been a frequent venue for the band, along with other legendary world music venues such as Cornelia St. Cafe, DROM, and World Cafe Live (in Philadelphia, PA). In February 2018, their arrangement of Ukrainian folk song “Svalava Kozatshok” went viral on Facebook with nearly 20K views. “Wild, yet reserved, the music of Klazz-Ma-Tazz will surprise you, excite you, and calm you, all in one sitting” (Fred Stal, RG Magazine).
Benjamin released his third album as a leader in November 2020, Hard Bop Hanukkah, recorded live at Rockwood Music Hall, released on MEII Enterprises. The album features Sam Javitch on piano, Cole Davis on bass, and Evan Sherman on drums, and has been highly endorsed by the likes of Regina Carter, David Krakauer and Downbeat Magazine. In the spring of 2022 his composition “Mr. Inevitable” was featured on NPR’s Live Sessions series. Sutin was also selected as one of ten jazz violinists from around the world to compete in the 2022 edition of the Zbigniew Seifert International Jazz Violin Competition in Poland and is currently pursuing a masters degree in Multi-Style Strings Performance at New Jersey City University. He holds a BM in Jazz Violin Performance from Manhattan School of Music.
As an educator, Sutin’s private jazz string instruction, inspired by his studies with the likes of John Blake Jr, Christian Howes, Rob Thomas, and Sara Caswell, has helped students with such achievements as being accepted into some of the nation’s most prestigious college level jazz programs (i.e. MSM, NEC, NYU), NYC’s top music and arts high schools (SMS and LaGuardia), and gaining award-winning recognition in notable nationwide competitions (i.e. YoungArts High School Jazz Competition).
Manhattan School of Music Precollege faculty since 2022.
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