Benji Kaplan and Rita Figueiredo are a couple. The two have creative lives that they have developed separately and on occasion, they have allowed those lives to converge. The result is an album like “Benji & Rita” in which the couple uses their unique perspectives to craft an album of original songs.
The couple has written 14 original songs that discuss love, music and history. The songs take audiences to places in the US and Brazil, and then weave their narrative lyrics around the place. The music is intricate and intimate. The lyrics are interesting and the resulting CD sounds like an adventure. One of the most unique songs on “Benji & Rita” is “Swing Do Jazz,” about the qualities and history of jazz.
About Benji Kaplan
Kaplan grew up around expressive types. His Cuban father was a percussionist and his mother was a visual artist. Kaplan was immersed himself in classical Brazilian music. In addition, he often mixes Brazilian classical with Brazilian pop. He has released previous albums and “Benji & Rita” is his fifth.
About Rita Figueiredo
Figueiredo is a classically trained singer whose 2013 debut received widespread acclaim. Her songs are described as being full of stories, and that narrative bent can be heard on “Benji & Rita.”
Aside from music, Figueiredo has dedicated decades to the field of visual art, in particular animation and illustration. Her visual work has been featured on MTV Brazil and USA, Nickelodeon, TV Cultura and other networks. In 2015, she moved to New York to continue working in jazz and to build her partnership with Kaplan. “Benji & Rita” is her second album.
“Swing Do Jazz” by Benji & Rita
The song’s soundscape is a simple guitar. The drama and tension of the piece is created by the singers’ voices. The song’s lyrics describe the nature of jazz. As a sort of bridge, it details the subgenres of jazz as created when the form links to popular genres. Though it seems like a small detail, it is interesting. Especially when listeners can hear it and read it in the liner notes. Jazz links with other genres to make often fascinating hybrid forms, and Benji and Rita use stripped down Brazilian jazz guitar and Portuguese lyrics to explain this to audiences. Even if audiences do not appreciate sparse soundscapes, they should appreciate the lessons in this song.
Here, on “Swing Do Jazz,” the singers’ voices meld nicely. Each holds its own part and there are no off-kilter moments. This song is just one example of why audiences should give their work a listen.
“Benji & Rita” became available for purchase June 23, 2019.