“Tunnel Of Light”, Chapter Seven in The Clear Blue Pearl.
Morning Ritual is a new project from Ben Darwish. Performing long-form compositions, their music takes the listener on a sonic journey both in sound and lyrical content. Their first piece, a ten-song epic entitled “The Clear Blue Pearl”, features Shook Twins and follows a couple on a quest for water after a devastating drought. Written for a full band and four voices, the piece combines elements of folk and dubstep with pulsing vocal harmonies and tight-knit piano-driven grooves. The band also features Bill Marsh on bass/vocals and Kevin Van Geem on drums. Creation of “The Clear Blue Pearl” was made possible in part by the Oregon Arts Commission and Caldera Arts.
The Clear Blue Pearl
After a drought plagues their land, a man and his wife set out in search for “The Clear Blue Pearl”, an aquifer which is rumored to be close underground. After a harrowing search, they finally discover the underground oasis they’ve been looking for, but once they decide to make it their new home, they realize they may have settled on unstable land.
Duo Denim is a Portland/Philadelphia-based rock and hip-hop-influenced instrumental duo featuring Ben Darwish (Commotion) on Rhodes and keyboards and Drew Shoals (Tony Furtado, Dan Balmer) on drums. After a debut performance at the 2010 PDX Pop NOW! Festival, Brandon Ellison of Oregon Music News wrote, “We’ve covered the incredibly talented indie jazz darling (Ben Darwish) a number of times now, but this performance was an entirely different animal. How do you even begin to describe something like this instrumental duo? Post-rock? Chamber-pop? Experimental jazz? It was all that and more. At times Darwish’s Rhodes piano sounded joyous like Sufjan Stevens, haunting like The Album Leaf. They covered Bon Iver. And drummer Drew Shoals was a madman, playing intricate, Radiohead-ish, odd time signatures, hip-hop beats, and tasteful flourishes.” Recorded at Portland’s Type Foundry Studio, Duo Denim’s debut EP “Het Rocks (Vol. 1)” was digitally released in December 13th, 2011.
Portland’s Commotion is a live experience that you do not want to miss! Drawing from funk and afrobeat rhythms, they bring a non-stop dance party from start to finish. Their original music has been described as “orchestral funk” and they enjoy performing live arrangements and “mash-ups” of songs by their favorite artists. Having presented such high concept shows as Live Band vs. Ohmega Watts (band vs. DJ) and an Afrobeat Tribute to Michael Jackson, the band is well versed in dance music and draws from these styles and other rhythms from around the globe.
Led by keyboardist and composer, Ben Darwish, Commotion features a 10-piece band including a full horn section and special guest vocalists. Recent vocalists have been Jans Ingber (Motet), Reva DeVito, Toni Hill, and Aniana Hough (Philly’s Phunkestra). Members of the band have also performed with Curtis Salgado, Diane Schuur, Rubberneck, Marv Ellis, and March Fourth Marching Band to name a few.
Recently, top northwest clubs have counted on Commotion to start the party and keep it strong! They continually sell out their Afrobeat Tribute To Michael Jackson, combining the music of MJ and Fela Kuti, and their original music is equally as in demand. Keep an eye out for Commotion shows because live is where they thrive!
“[ORCHESTRAL FUNK] Whether reimagining Michael Jackson through the ears of Fela Kuti or exploding with any number of local jazz projects, Portland keymaster and composer Ben Darwish is a musical sponge, and he soaks up funk like a steroidal Brawny sheet. With Commotion—Darwish’s long-standing project with guitarist Dan Duval, bassman Sam Howard, drummer Russ Kleiner and an on-call army of guest players—Darwish proudly flaunts his debt to Kuti, Herbie Hancock, 1970s orchestral funk masters and damn near every funk master of the past 40 years. The world-beat and hip-hop-infused compositions are, by nature, repetitive. But anyone impressed by skilled musicians holding down a groove and letting the horns do the talking would be hard pressed to find a better live dance party.” – Willamette Week
“…they know how to have a good time live and want to help you do the same. Do yourself a favor and let them entertain you!” -Eugene Weekly
“Combining two styles of music that share an entirely danceable beat (for example, a three-person percussion section) Ben Darwish and the folks of COMMOTION kept the majority of the audience in motion from start to finish, a feat that has rarely happened at any tractor [tavern] show.”
Listen to some tracks from our album or visit the albums page for more info, tracks and links for purchasing.
The Ben Darwish Trio pushes the boundaries of the modern acoustic piano trio. Performing mostly original music, the group features the incredible musicianship of Dave Captein on bass and Jason Palmer on drums, top call players in the Northwest who are also featured on several new Origin Records releases. The Ben Darwish Trio has performed extensively since 2005 and have released two albums: “Industrial Hero” in 2006 and “Ode to Consumerism” in 2009.
Aside from regularly performing in such venues as Jimmy Maks in Portland (rated by Downbeat Magazine as one of the top 100 places to hear jazz), music from “Industrial Hero” is heard on radio stations across the country, a Voleurz extreme sports movie, and was even included on ESC Records tribute to The Beatles, entitled “Step Inside Love”. On this 2007 release, the Trio’s version of “Hey Bulldog” is alongside recordings by such luminaries as Brad Mehldau, David Sanborn, Joel Frahm, Bob Sheppard, and countless others. Cadence Magazine compared their cover of “Hey Bulldog” to a “…treatment Ramsey Lewis might try, pulling the shape and tempo of the song around but always keeping the melody recognizable.”
Check the calendar for more upcoming dates.
Listen to some tracks from our two albums or visit the individuals albums page for more info, tracks and links for purchasing an album of your choice.
Ode to Consumerism (2009) &
Industrial Hero (2006)
Calling all P.Y.T.s!
Put on your dancing shoes for an Afrobeat concert inspired by Michael Jackson’s music. Innovative Portland-based composer Ben Darwish will lead a ten-piece band interpret Jackson’s songs using Afrobeat techniques popularized by Fela Kuti. Featuring members of COMMOTION, with Tahirah Memory and Gretchen Mitchell on vocals, master African drummer Neindow Mashud, who frequently performs with Obo Addy, and DJ Dundiggy. Don’t stop till you get enough!
Gretchen Mitchell, vocals
Tahirah Memory, vocals
Brooks Barnett, trumpet
Tim Willcox, sax
Mary Sue Tobin, bari sax
Cameron Morgan, guitar
Ben Darwish, keys
Sam Howard, bass
Neindow Mashud, percussion
Ji Tanzer, drums
“It was, after all a mere piece of technically prodigious musical whimsy: dance meeting dance on the floor.”
“The groove was only about 20 seconds old when the first hardy soul took to the dance floor Monday night at The Works. And as he waved his arms to encourage the rest of the seated crowd, it was as if the principal had just granted the student body permission to let loose. The open area in front of the stage in this old high school auditorium filled suddenly, and stayed that way through the 90-minute-long Afrobeat tribute to Michael Jackson that closed the Labor Day weekend on a celebratory note for the ongoing Time-Based Art Festival.”
“Darwish’s ensemble was pretty amazing with a bold horn section and spot on rhythm. Darwish, for his part, directed them well, jumping around the stage and coaxing them on. His arrangements were fantastic and it was cool to hear Jackson’s work pulled, stretched, and wrapped around afrobeat rythyms. For instance, phrases from “Smooth Criminal” would be repeated by the horn section while the syncopated beat pumped away, or Darwish would slowly sing the lyrics of Billy Jean in deep Fela Kuti baritone while the fantastic back-up singers responded in classic afrobeat style. It worked both as a live mash-up, and the collaboration you never knew you always wanted to hear.”
PLEASE FILL OUT THE CONTACT FORM FOR BOOKING INFO
CHECK OUT THE AFROBEAT TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL JACKSON [EPK]