“Ben Sures new record “Poema Poematis” is a charming song cycle filled with heart and wit and made all the more cohesive by some brilliant horn and string arrangements. Reminiscent of Van Dyke Parks “Discover America” but in it’s own way”
– Ron Sexsmith
In 2016 Ben Sures received a grant from the Canada Council to have his songs arranged for horns and strings and to be presented in concert.
The concert took place at The Yardbird Suite on March 24, 2016 in Edmonton, Alberta. The concert was magical and an interesting coming together of diverse audience members.There were Ben Sures fans, fans of Order of Canada recipient PJ Perry, Juno award winner Jeremiah McDade, CFMA winners The Bombadils, Jazz fans, songwriter fans, all kinds of fans who came and collectively enjoyed a performance that crossed the boundaries of acoustic music and horn arrangements. The evening was recorded, mixed and mastered by Miles Wilkinson. The band leader and arranger was Audrey Ochoa.
This very special recording is dedicated to Audrey’s father Romeo Ochoa, a celebrated musician and music educator. He left us the night before the first rehearsal, two days before the show. Audrey was invited to get a substitute to fill her role as trombonist and conductor, but as she put it, “Papa would have wanted me to do the gig.” The greatness of the performance is due to her arrangements and leading the band. No small feat under any circumstances, let alone these.
- Ben Sures-acoustic guitar, vocals
- Audrey Ochoa-arranger, band leader, trombone
- Bob Tildesley-trumpet
- Sergio D. Rodriguez-trumpet
- Dave Babcock-baritone saxophone
- PJ Perry-alto saxophone, clarinet
- Jeremiah McDade-tenor saxophone
- Stephanie Suchy- vocals, percussion
- Joe Phillips-upright bass
- Luke Fraser-mandolin
- Sarah Frank-violin, vocals
What are people saying about Poema Poematis? Check out some of the reviews:
Imagine the idiosyncratic lyrics of a less cynical Loudon Wainwright fronting a big band with the wry slight smile of a beat poet – Read the full Northern Sky Magazine review by Marc Higgins
The great stage presence is one thing, the calmness he exudes is another, but it is the whole package that he presents in his latest album, Poema Poematis, that marks this Canadian musician out as incredibly special. – Read the full Liverpool Sound and Vision review by Ian Hall
Without getting too nostalgic, between his banter and the crisp recordings, it’s officially worth seeking out when he plays Beaumont Blues and Roots Festival on June 17 and on cdbaby.com thereafter. – Read more of Fish Griwkowsky’s article in the Edmonton Journal
…ten piece outfit delivering songs with forty shades of jazzed up nature with music hall and gypsy jazz oompahpah-ing away while referencing some of the jazz greats, Mingus, Parker, Grappelli and Reinhardt. – Read the FATEA review by Mike Ainscoe
[Ben’s] a wonderfully multi-talented guy – an absolutely original singer-songwriter with a quirky approach to songwriting and a lot of unique takes on the world around him, which many people would be sympathetic to. – Read the feature by Heather Kitching on Roots Music Canada
Review by Melanie Glass in Maverick:
Innovation is always something warmly appreciated within the country music genre, and Ben Sures has taken this to new levels with his latest album, POEMA POEMATIS, with an extensive brass and strings section brought in to add more depth to his songs. The end result is commendable, with Sures constructing 11 songs of notable quality, with the effect he was looking for with the added sections really paying off. With several transition tracks that lead into the actual song, this live album really packs a punch at the moments you need it to, with a number of catchy songs enticing you into listening further.
Review by Roger Levesque of Penguin Eggs Magazine:
Singer songwriter and strummer Ben Sures has always had a musical vision too big to stick with one style or another, and a sense of humour that brings a comic element to many of his songs. This time around, in a live performance from Edmonton’s venerable Yardbird Suite he takes on varied shades of jazz with a ten-piece band that includes six of the city’s best, most versatile horn players.
Special credit to trombonist-arranger Audrey Ochoa who came up with splendid ensemble charts incorporating bits of Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, Django Reinhardt and more, touching on oompah, bebop, Gypsy jazz and whimsical music hall without weighing in on anything too long. Ochoa’s veteran musician father died two days before the show but she stuck it out for him and the album is dedicated to Romeo Ochoa. Kudos to Miles Wilkinson’s great sound job too.
In the end though it’s Sures who commands our attention with lyric themes tracing childhood memories and forlorn romance, social media strangers and the dangers of foreign travel. Shot through with his bemused wit and folky warmth, it’s a song fest beyond genre that brings a smile to your face.