Ben Grisafi

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Defying the extensive odds against being successful, Ben Grisafi put together a 19-piece big band in 1993. Working out of Baldwin, Long Island, Grisafi has a veritable goldmine of players to choose from,…
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Defying the extensive odds against being successful, Ben Grisafi put together a 19-piece big band in 1993. Working out of Baldwin, Long Island, Grisafi has a veritable goldmine of players to choose from, many of them veterans of the big band era, having played with such towers of those times as Harry James, Glenn Miller, the Dorsey Brothers, Stan Kenton, and Billy May, to name just a few. Maybe a bit long in the tooth, these veterans of the big bands seemingly have lost neither their ability nor their desire to swing as their work with Grisafi has conclusively exhibited. Growing up listening to the music from the big bands and their major soloists -- and especially influenced by Charlie Ventura, Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young -- Grisafi's long career had its genesis in the 1940s as he sat in sections of bands led by Randy Brooks and Billy Butterfield. Since its inception, his group has put together four successful CDs, starting with Talk of the Town in 1993 through Say You'll Always Remember, released in 2001. The success of these CDs indicates a strong residue of support for big band swing in New York and other large cities. The band uses a huge book, put togther by Grisafi, which features the leader's fresh arrangements of songs that helped make the swing era one the most flourishing periods of popular music in America's history. Charts from the document have been picked up by such other outfits as Canada's Matt Kenney Big Band. While Grisafi not only has many veterans of the big band era available, he draws among the talents and ideas of younger artists as well. One of these is the band's vocalist from the beginning, Denise Richards, who vocalizes in the tradition and style of Helen Forrest and Doris Day. This big band has appeared at several venues and has opened for such notables as Jerry Vale. When he is not working, Grisafi likes to listen to Phil Woods, Rob McConnell & the Boss Brass, Count Basie, and Les Brown. It's the Brown sound that the Grisafi aggregation most closely resembles.