The Orion Saxophone Quartet came into being in 1989, established by Jeff Benedict and Charles Richard, both of whom were recent products of Harvey Pittel's saxophone studio at the University of Texas. Staunch devotees of Pittel's rich, expansive tone, they wanted to form a group based in Los Angeles that would play in the same bold and unapologetic manner they had studied so assiduously under his tutelage. Ken Foerch, a former member of the U.S. Marine Band, and Adrian Williams, a product of Richard's own studio, proved to be the perfect match in tone quality and musical concept. It is the aspiration of the Orion Quartet to perform a diverse array of music in a manner true to the composer's intent and the style of the era while also exploiting the full tonal and expressive range of Adolphe Sax's grand invention. With a repertoire spanning five centuries, the Orion Saxophone Quartet demonstrates a perpetually robust sonority and superb command of the melodic line.
Members of the Orion Saxophone Quartet
JEFF BENEDICT, founding member of the Orion Saxophone Quartet, holds a B.M. and an M.A. from the Lamont School of Music and a D.M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a student of Harvey Pittel. He has been the winner of four "deebee" awards from Downbeat magazine, one each for Classical Performance and Jazz Composition, and two for Jazz Performance. He is in demand as a classical soloist, and has premiered new works for the Saxophone including the world premiere of Peter Terry's Into Light for Saxophone, Chamber Orchestra and Computer-generated Tape and the mid-west premiere of David Amram's Ode to Lord Buckley for Saxophone and Orchestra. As a member of the ensemble, he has performed with the Aspen Festival Orchestra, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group. His credits as a jazz performer include appearances with Toshiko Akiyoshi, Randy Brecker, Nick Brignola, Eddie Daniels, Carl Fontana, Curtis Fuller, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Hubert Laws, Wynton Marsalis, Bob Mintzer, Claudio Roditi, Diane Schuur, Lew Soloff, Billy Taylor, Mel Torme, Bill Watrous, Mark Whitfield and Joe Williams. Jeff is currently on the faculty at the California State University, Los Angeles where he is the Saxophone Instructor and the Director of Jazz Studies. He has released two jazz albums on the Resurgent Music. record label, Castle Creek Shuffle and Standard Fare.
CHARLIE RICHARD, also one of the group's founding members, is a frequent performer in the Los Angeles area. He has appeared with the Redlands Symphony, the Riverside Civic Light Opera, Dinah Shore, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, the Mark Masters' Jazz Composers Orchestra of Los Angeles and the Kevin Mayse Big Band. A graduate of the California State University, Los Angeles, where he received both Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts degrees, he has studied saxophone with Harvey Pittel, Anthony Desiderio and Vito Susca. His compositions are published by the UNC Jazz Press, and he has been the recipient of a "deebee" award from Downbeat magazine for Best Original Extended Composition. Charlie is currently Co-chair of the Music Department at Riverside Community College, where he also teaches studio saxophone and directs the Jazz Ensembles.
ADRIAN WILLIAMS joined the quartet in 1994. A student of Charlie Richard at Riverside Community College, Adrian is one of Southern California's most outstanding young saxophonists. He has been the recipient of awards from the Music Department at Riverside Community College, the Cal. State L.A. Jazz Festival, the Music Association of California Community Colleges and the John Philip Sousa Honor Band, and was awarded a scholarship to study with Harvey Pittel at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.
KEN FOERCH is the most recent addition to the Orion Saxophone Quartet. After receiving his master of music degree at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, he started his doctoral program at the University of Southern California. Then one day a professor handed him a flyer advertising auditions for the U.S. Marine Band Foerch got the job and for the next eight years, under two presidents, played “Hail to the Chief ” thousands of times, along with anthems from dozens of other countries to announce the entrance of foreign dignitaries. Foerch then left D.C. to finish his doctorate in music at USC. He also began teaching privately and in local colleges, and played concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and a rhythm and blues band to which he still belongs. He finished his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2003. He has been an Assistant Professor of Music at Vanguard University since 2004, where he teaches a variety of classes, from jazz band to basic musicianship and aural theory.