Benji does not put all his eggs in one basket by any means. He effortlessly crafts his own brand of Neo-Classical Brazilian infused music meets late Romantic inspired compositions and arrangements by day and doubles by night as a quirky crooner who adorns his voice with lush voicings and harmonies from his nylon string guitar in his one man show. The former, he often portrays with large and medium scale ensemble formations ranging from string quartets to wind Ensembles of varying shapes and sizes. Benji has performed in a wide array of venues such as Cornelia Street Cafe, Dizzy’s Club, Rubin Museum of Art, Zinc Bar, Nu Blu, and the legendary Rio de Janeiro club “Beco das Garrafas” (Bottles Bar) among many others. Before Benji ever picked up an instrument, he picked up a brush! “I dreamed of being a famous painter who’s work would go in museums one day” he recounted with his mother (Vera Kaplan, a surreal/abstract artist), who first introduced him to that world when he was about 6 years old. He would set up shop in front of Central park on the weekends and sell his paintings to passersby. All his talent, creativity and integrity transferred to the guitar when he stopped painting at age 11 and took up music and the guitar as his mainstay. He takes a similar approach to creating his compositions today and his philosophy is: “It’s all textures, patterns, moods, mediums and colors! The end result is a vision, a story I can share with others. This is what I want to create, it's what keeps me going”.
One of Benji's greatest passions and missions is to bridge the gap between Brazilian music and the american songbook. Having spent much of his late teens in various regions of Brazil up until the present, through concerts and workshops, he Invites audiences around the globe to gain greater insight and appreciation in to the interconnectedness of musical culture in both places. He transmits this insight through performances and lectures, comparing styles, techniques and harmonic approaches from various composers both from the past and present times in Brazil, U.S. and Europe.
" I think Benji is the greatest composer of Brazilian music to come from the United States" - Guinga (most recognized composer post-Jobim from Brazil)
Photo by Rita Figueiredo
Photo by Rita Figueiredo
With 3 critically aclaimed albums to date, Benji first released;
(“Meditações no Violão”) (Guitar Meditations)
Original pieces for solo guitar in 2011 - ,
“…a collection of poetic and refined compositions played with a perfect balance of intellect and emotion” JazzTimes
his 2nd release (“Reveries em Som”) in 2015 - Featured Anne Drummond,
…”a deep conversation between the flute and guitar weaving melodies and harmonies together that are both lyrical and unpredictable. Lush Brazilian Jazz mixed with classical and World music elements, equally suitable for the old soul or the contemporary listeners ears!"
And following his 2nd album, released (“Uai Sô”) in 2016
“Kaplan’s idiosyncratic and exploratory style, thematically challenging and boldly expressive.This is actually a bigger deal than could ever be imagined or expressed in a five-hundred-or-so (word) review”
-Raul da Gama/World Music Report
“Uai Sô" is so unexpected that it cannot be pigeonholed. Not at all.The music flows beautifully and oscillates between Brazilian song and new classical so rapidly as to truly meld together as one unprecedented newness” - Gapplegate Music Review
“Sophisticated yet sensuous”
- Jazz Weekly
- Benji & Guinga circa 2010