Benchmark

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(Scroll to the bottom of the page to play Benchmark Series no. 1 then read the descriptives at your leisure)


Kansas City - The piano quartet is an underutilized ensemble which gives the sustain and sonorous tone of the strings (violin, viola and cello) with the attack and the lushness of the piano.

This series is about opera. As our careers traverse from Classical to Jazz to Pop R&B to Tango and Flamenco we felt the need to keep our fundamental, the medium that got us to where we are today and will sustain us as we continue to experiment with new sounds and collaborate with more artists. It is our Benchmark, meant to meet our standards, not to try and be better than anyone else. 

These pieces are hard. The process was hard, almost impossible. We had four days to make the record, with six hours of rehearsal! Set up in a large room, we all had eyes on each other as we sailed through some sections and struggled on others. A massive thunderstorm cut some of our recording time as we had to shut off and reboot.

This album was just as much a testament to resilience, patience and trust as it was to the operatic artform. The ensemble created in the studio was fierce and intense in attitude and sublime in gesture. You can hear in some of the solo passages just how the players soared through those historic measures; sometimes virtuosily lilting and other times as if sorrow had been the player. 

It's not all clean. It's not all perfect. Life isn't like that. It comes and goes and however you are when life happens, that's what you get. This is just as much a record of time as it is a record of music. We hope you enjoy its immediacy and... play it loud!

-The Boys (Ben and Nathan)


Compact Disc - Benchmark Series No. 1

$18.00

Ann Arbore, MI - With this recording, these inimitable tenors break new ground. In arranging these operatic selections for piano quartet, they emphasize intimacy and emotional depth, showing that these singers are committed to not only to exploring the range of their voices, but also to the range of their music.
This high-quality studio process allows the singers to discover a greater timbral and dynamic range than often afforded them in concert halls. This sense of economy harvests the intimacy of chamber music using operatic material, revitalizing well-known selections such as “La donna é mobile” along with a range of historically demanding tenor arias.
Whether singing together or separately, there is no doubt of Gulley and Granner’s distinct ease and lyricism even as they passionately take on selections such as “Nessun dorma.” Ben Gulley soars in “Ah! mes amis,” a double-aria, highlighting his effortless control over an exceedingly demanding piece. Nathan Granner’s infinite legato oozes passion, emphasizing the text and music’s tonal moodiness. Gulley and Granner’s clear friendship based on good humor and mutual respect.
On stage, this relationship expands, allowing them to connect personally with their audiences. As they tell their stories they invite both seasoned listeners and newcomers to appreciate the beauty and grandeur of classical music. Yet it is the instrumentalists, especially the string players, who are given more liberties in these chamber arrangements.
These collaborative arrangements by Kirt Mosier, Michalis Koutsoupides and Jesse Lynch, led by Elizabeth Suh Lane deliberately avoid a wall of sound, in order to showcase the musical dialogue involved in each selection. For instance, the players imbue Werther’s monologue “Pourquoi me réveiller” with a close-quarters tenseness, which in combination with added harmonies over key lines transforms this solo into a technically masterful duet, underscoring the split in Werther’s tragic Romantic character.
Dr. Richard Rischar
Production Personell
Ben Gulley - tenor
Nathan Granner tenor
Elizabeth Suh Lane of Bach Aria Soloists- violin
Michalis Koutsoupides - viola, arrangement
Sascha Groschang of The Wires - Cello
Jesse Lynch - piano, supplimental arrangement
Kirt Mosier - arrangement

Recorded at Soundtrek Studios in Kansas City
Justin Wilson - engineer
Bob Beck of UMKC Conservatory of Music - editing/ mixing
Nathan Granner  - editing
Neil Simpson of Chapman Recording - mastering
Brian Paulette - photos
Independently produced by Gulley/Granner LLC

Thanks to our many fans who stepped up and contributed through indiegogo.com to help make this album, in particular K. Kesselring, Ed and Sally Ingram and our loving families. Thank you for your generous support.