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Casey Benjamin, Saxophonist With Robert Glasper Experiment, Dies Aged 46

Also renowned for his talent with the vocoder, the New York-born musician also played with Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Mary J. Blige and more.

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Casey Benjamin - Photo: Craig Lovell/Corbis via Getty Images

Casey Benjamin has died at the age of 46. The widely-renowned artist was known for his exceptional talent on the saxophone and vocoder with the Robert Glasper Experiment. No cause of death has been specified at the time of writing.

Born in Queens, New York, in 1978, Benjamin began playing saxophone aged 8 and studied at the well-known Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts before enrolling at the New School. While there, he met a young Robert Glasper, with whom he went on to form a lasting creative relationship.

The Robert Glasper Experiment—comprised predominantly of Robert Glasper (keys, piano, synths), Derrick Hodge (bass), Chris Dave (drums, percussion), and Casey Benjamin (vocoder, flute, saxophone, synths)—won a Grammy Award for Best R&B album for the groundbreaking 2012 album Black Radio, which featured guest appearances by Erykah Badu, Lalah Hathaway, Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Ledisi, Musiq Soulchild, Meshell Ndegeocello, Yasiin Bey, and more.

The follow-up album, 2013’s Black Radio 2, was also nominated for a Best R&B Album and netted Benjamin his second Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance for the album’s recreation of Stevie Wonder‘s “Jesus Children of America.”

In addition to his work with Glasper, Benjamin also collaborated with a variety of influential performers from both jazz and hip-hop, including Kendrick Lamar, Betty Carter, Nas, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Wyclef Jean, Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Beyoncé, and more. He also performed as one-half of the funk pop new wave duo HEAVy alongside vocalist Nicky Guiland.

Fans and colleagues have taken to social media to pay tribute to his Benjamin. Among those expressing their condolences was bassist Derrick Hodge, a bandmate with Casey in the Robert Glasper Experiment. In an emotional Instagram post, Hodge said, “Tonight, I honor a brother. Casey Benjamin, thank you for inspiring me, for being a light in my life, and for your unbelievable influence on the music world. I will carry your smile with me, brother. And we will collectively honor and carry your legacy with us.”

Hodge added, “Can’t get my words together at this moment but will echo a few of my last words to you: I’m thankful for you and love you always! Rest well, King.”

Also among those paying tribute, Living Colour‘s Vernon Reid, took to X/Twitter to call Benjamin’s passing a “brutal & terrible shock”. He wrote “My sincerest condolences go out to my YoHimBe Brother on this day of revelation. I’m in a weird place with it. Too young! Too soon! So much left to give! Rest. In. Power, CB!”

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. roy

    April 1, 2024 at 6:41 pm

    wow, looking up somebody else, and it lead to this….. just saw him again with Stefon Harris and Blackout again last fall…. geez… this is a huge loss…. man what a player…

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