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Winsted’s Benny Weinbeck composes music for movie

February 16, 2009

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

WINSTED, MN – Winsted’s Benny Weinbeck is a jazz pianist who has recorded more than two dozen albums, many of his tunes played in that easy listening style that he does so well.

However, his musical talents have been branching out.

Recently he finished composing all of the music for the epic movie “Midnight Chronicles,” in which Weinbeck is listed in the credits as composer and supervising sound editor on the film.

“I love jazz and I consider myself a jazz pianist or a jazz musician, but I almost consider myself a composer more,” Weinbeck said during a recent interview.

He has found jazz has helped him with composing, explaining that jazz is improvisational. It is a “vehicle” which he has been able to use in trying to describe things, and he was able to use it to help him portray different scenes with music.

“I have always liked working with scenarios,” Weinbeck said. “I see something happen and then try to describe it with music.”

But the image of him with a pencil composing music is not an accurate picture, according to Weinbeck.

He uses his computer to compose much of his music.

“There are a lot of software programs, but the main one I use is called Logic,” he said.

It took Weinbeck a total of two years to complete all of the medieval music for “Midnight Chronicles.”

His computer enabled him to write music for instruments he had never played before.

To compose music for some of the instruments he was not familiar with, he spent time studying and listening to their different subtleties.

“I had to be all of the musicians. I had to play the drum parts and I had to play the horn parts. If there were little incidentals, I had to be all of those,” Weinbeck said. “It takes a lot of settings to make virtual instruments sound like real instruments on a computer.”

The music also needed to be continually edited to fit the changing footage of the film.

This movie is not the first time Weinbeck has worked with films. He has also composed and produced music for short films and documentaries, as well as video games.

Weinbeck marvels at the opportunity given musicians today with all of the technology available.

“When I was a kid trying to learn how to play certain songs and certain kinds of music, you couldn’t go out and buy the solos from famous jazz pianists or composers,” Weinbeck said. “Now, you can just buy the music and download it, and then you have it.”

“I would have a tape recorder with a song on it and I would just keep stopping it and playing it back until I had the music,” Weinbeck said.

Learning music the hard way might be one of the reasons Weinbeck has more than 300 songs memorized. And that number continues to grow.

In addition, his iPhone allows him to download an application that provides the melody or chords to another 550 songs that might possibly be requested.

Knowing all of those songs is very useful for his weekend gig at D’Amico Cucina bar and restaurant at Butler Square, in Minneapolis where he has been entertaining the crowd for 21 years.

For 18 of those 21 years, Weinbeck has been accompanied by bassist Gordon Johnson.

“Even if I won the lottery, I would still play at D’Amico’s. It is like my living room,” Weinbeck said. “My friends come and visit and have a glass of wine and I play some songs, and sometimes we have other musicians that come down and play with us and have a great time.”

Weinbeck’s new album

Weinbeck has released a brand new album called “For Friends and Lovers.”

The album is a collection of romantic songs from the ‘50s and ‘60s, and there is a bonus track titled “Lover’s Lullaby,” which is one of his three original compositions on the CD.

“This CD is very relaxing all the way through. I wanted something where you can have your friends over and the music isn’t disruptive,” Weinbeck said. “It just kind of sets a nice mood.”

The CD features his brother, Henry Weinbeck, on the flugelhorn, Gordon Johnson on bass, and vocal accompaniment on one song by Weinbeck and his wife, Darcy. The artwork on the album cover was designed by the Weinbecks’ 8-year-old daughter, Ella.

Benny Weinbeck’s CD can be purchased at CDbaby.com or Keaveny Drug. The new album is one of more than two dozen albums that Weinbeck has recorded. Four of those albums are all original Weinbeck compositions.

His last album, “The Piano: The Standards,” was number one for 26 weeks in rotation on KBEM-FM jazz radio in Minneapolis.

Currently, Weinbeck is writing music for some short films, and he is already planning another CD.

Anyone who would like to contact Weinbeck, may do so by e-mail at benny@weinbeck.com. More information about Weinbeck, and samples of his music, are available on the following web sites:
His CDs are available at Target stores and through the web sites. For a related article, click here.


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