POTTSTOWN - Montgomery County Community College Adjunct Music Instructor Ben Britton recently received a Latin Grammy nomination for his work on “Tito Puente Masterworks Live!!!” with Conductor Bobby Sanabria and the Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra.
The nomination tops off an exciting year for Britton, whose jazz quartet, Unconventional Riot, recently released its debut EP, Children at Play. The EP includes three of Britton’s original compositions: “Children at Play,” “Partly,” and “Good Times.”
Britton, the composer and tenor saxophonist for Unconventional Riot, describes the quartet’s style as staying true to “jazz tradition of the past,” while integrating “modern trends of jazz and other genres of music.”
The quartet, which also includes Matt Davis on guitar, Gabe Globus-Hoenich on drums and Jordan Bergeron base, has been playing together for almost a year.
Britton praises his fellow quartet members for their unique musical experiences, which he says helps give the band its sound.
Britton describes his own compositions as an “unexpected twist" and unique.
“I enjoy digging into different sounds and rhythms and experimenting with unique sounds and progressions,” said Britton, who is influenced by jazz musicians Chris Potter and Charlie Parker.
Although the actual recording and mixing sessions for Unconventional Riot’s EP did not take very long, the time, energy and creativity the quartet invested in rehearsing spans almost an entire year.
Some of Britton’s original compositions date back two or three years before the quartet members began playing together.
“This music is my art and this EP is kind of like a marking point showing where I am with my art today,” said Britton.
Britton tries to incorporate “a strong rhythmic groove and forward momentum” to his work to evoke a mood of playfulness and fun.
“The key to successful improvisation is knowing your instrument inside and out as well as the composition. The faster you can take the music in your head and make it come out of your instrument the better,” he said.
The success of Unconventional Riot’s first year has left the members excited to pursue gigs in New York City, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.
Britton also intends to work on compositions for a full-length album.
“When I compose, I often include something quirky and unique in each of my songs and that is something that the improviser has to learn and internalize," he said. "I also want my solos to sound interesting, unified and sometimes surprising.”