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The Dose: H. Jon Benjamin classes up comedic act with new jazz album

The Dose: H. Jon Benjamin classes up comedic act with new jazz album

January 28
03:34 2016

Kyle Martin | Staff Writer


Comedian and infamous voice actor of both Archer from “Archer” and Bob from “Bob’s Burgers” H. Jon Benjamin recorded and released a jazz album in November 2015.

And it sucks (in the best possible way).

To be clear, the album entitled “Well, I Should Have…(Learned How to Play Piano)” features notable jazz musicians Scott Kreitzer on saxophone, David Finck on bass and Jonathan Perez on drums—and they themselves do not suck. They are weathered veterans of the jazz scene and actually know what the hell they’re doing.

Benjamin, with no jazz experience (or any musical experience at all, for that matter) decided to pick up piano specifically for this album. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where his 20 years of comedic genius comes out to play.

The opening track, “Deal With the Devil,” is a prologue depicting Benjamin’s initial attempt to sell his soul and obtain boundless piano chops from the Devil, who is voiced by none other than Aziz Ansari. But the Devil is unimpressed with his request and refuses Benjamin’s hairy, second-rate soul. This leaves Benjamin back at square one with absolutely zero musical talent.

Then the fun begins.

The next three tracks, “I Can’t Play Piano, Pt. 1” (up-tempo bop), “I Can’t Play Piano, Pt. 2” (mid-tempo swing) and “It Had To Be You” (cool, down-tempo blues), highlight the musical talent of the three featured musicians while equally featuring how terrible and inept Benjamin is at playing his instrument. In “I Can’t Play Piano, Pt. 1,” he even gets a solo, and if Thelonious Monk himself were alive to hear it, he would have puked. Immediately.

The fifth track and second interlude of the album, “Soft Jazzersize,” is a delicate piece that sounds like Benjamin isn’t even playing piano—mainly because it actually sounds good. In this song, the narrator (Benjamin) attempts to soothe listeners with his creepy, raspy, middle-aged-man voice “like an opiated panda.” Try listening to this song while falling asleep and you’ll likely lay awake, eyes wide open, questioning why you feel so weird. It’s great. Give it a spin.

The rest of the album includes “I Can’t Play Piano, Pt. 3,” “I Can’t Play Piano, Pt. 4 (Trill Baby Trill)” and then, surprisingly, “Amy’s Song (The Bum Steer),” which oddly enough seems to be an ode to Rage Against the Machine or The Beastie Boys and isn’t jazz at all. In this conclusion to the album, Benjamin raps to a heavy beat about—well, you’ll just have to check it out (probably without your mom in the room).

Jazz is a form of art that takes years to master and countless hours of crafting to understand and perform. One must study the greats like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald and endless other legends to even begin to master the style and nuance that is jazz music. It truly is one of America’s greatest gifts to the world. In this album, Benjamin and his knack for satire capture the antithesis of this concept perfectly. It’s hilarious, creative and terrible all in one package.

Way to go, Jon Benjamin. You’re now an official, recorded jazz musician (sort of).

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