Benji & Rita
“a collection of lush, iconoclastic arrangements and distinct vocals that make for a unique marriage. The team combines samba, waltz and pop arrangements by Kaplan (on guitar) with additional lyrics by Figueiredo, that are said to draw on the lyricist and singer’s roots in a country known for its Amazonian jungles and hard scrabble urbanscapes and are sung in Portuguese, so who knows: The music’s charm is in its dramatic delivery and its evocation of Tropicalia.” By Denise Sullivan (Downbeat Magazine)
“The self-titled album Benji & Rita introduces listeners to a fascinating form of Brazilian music that incorporates Brazilian rhythms, contemporary chamber music, jazz and European classical music influences.” By Angel Romero (World Music Central)
“…one of the most lively and magical sessions I’ve heard in 2019…Tunes like “Memorial Day” will hold you spellbound…Rita takes flight over the top with her sweet vocal stories… priceless. By Dick Metcalf (Contemporary Fusion Reviews)
“…masterfully conceived and performed. This is a clever new insight into the magic of Brazil.” By Grady Harp (Amazon)
“…cinematic and timeless…gorgeous and nocturnal…equal parts resplendent, indelible and ageless…Benji & Rita are a band to be reckoned with, worth repeated listens.” By Greg Robson (Step inside this house & former Newsday contributor)
“A freewheeling, gorgeously orchestrated whirlwind through the many facets of Brazilian music (samba, baiao, waltzes, pop)…whimsical, deeply romantic sonic images of New York and Brazil by the dynamic husband and wife team of Benji Kaplan (composer, arranger, producer, guitar, vocals) and Brazilian born singer-songwriter Rita Figueiredo.” By Jonathan Widran (Former L.A. Times, Jazziz, Billboard & All Music Guide Journalist)
“it is impossible to overstate how completely Miss Figueiredo’s poignant lyrics have affected this album. Add to all of this the masterful arrangements of Mr Kaplan that expand the music’s tonal palette enormously and the interiorized performances by a splendid group of musicians and you have the best case for Benji & Rita; a record that sparkles from end to end.” By Raul da Gama (World Music Report)
About Benji Kaplan:
The son of a native Cuban percussionist father and a prominent American visual-artist mother, Benji Kaplan has followed his arts-filled upbringing with a particular focus upon the classical forms of Brazilian music. Fully informed not only in Brazilian Classical and popular music, but also by Western Classical music and Jazz, the emerging composer crafts his own brand of Contemporary Classical Brazilian music ingeniously spiced with the full gamut of his rich musical understanding. He beautifully expresses his unique vision with ensembles ranging from string quartets to wind ensembles of varying shapes and sizes. His most recent album – Chorando Sete Chores – features 13 pieces for acoustic guitar and wind quintet. Although they are through-composed, they are fully informed by his deep Brazilian and Jazz influences and provides a clear display of the brilliant fusion of elements that is at the core of his sweeping artistic vision. His previous album Uai Sô vividly demonstrates his enormous scope, combining strings, brass and woodwinds in various combinations ranging from seven to twelve instruments.
About Rita Figueiredo:
The musical vein of the multimedia artist Rita Figueiredo began it’s pulse early on.
At age 14, the young girl, born in São Paulo began to study voice. Graduating in 1995 from Liberated University of Music (ULM) in lyrical song(classical and operatic techniques of singing). (Linked to the Sao Paulo State Music School of Tom Jobim) (EMESP).
To further hone in her skills as a musician, she moved from the classical to the popular singing school of vocal training.
The first opportunity to launch her original work came in 2011, when she won the Cultural Action Program (ProAC) Award from the Secretary of Culture, which fully funded the creation of her first record.
Refining the stories she lived and witnessed throughout her career, Rita Figueiredo released her debut album, Brasilis, in February of 2013.
In the shows, Figueiredo developed a theatrical aspect, guaranteeing greater audience engagement and understanding to the compositions, that portray stories of typical everyday people of rural as well as greater metropolitan areas.
In a short time, Rita had her first album featured on some important lists as one of the best records released in Brazil in 2013.
Before revealing her gift as a great storyteller through music, Rita Figueiredo had long imagined, created and reworked several other artistic projects as director of animated films. From small play chronicles to publicity ad campaigns.
The more than 20 years of Rita’s work in the area of design and animation include periods through broadcasting networks such as MTV and TV Cultura as well as several film producers companies. Her love of music brought her work as a videographer and animation animator/illustrator, closer to many Brazilian artists and musicians. Rita has directed music videos and made video and animations for multimedia screen backdrops for live concerts of many world renowned artists in Brazil such as Marisa Monte, Ed Motta, Badi Assad, Simoninha, Cássia Eller, Palavra Cantada among many others.
In 2015 Rita moved to New York and has since been intensely dedicated to music. In the last 3 years she has played in several cities in the USA, Brazil and Europe. In 2019 Rita is releasing his second album titled “Benji & Rita” with 14 songs in partnership with New York composer, arranger, singer and guitarist Benji Kaplan.