Casey Benjamin, Saxophonist and Keyboardist With Robert Glasper Experiment and More, Dies at 45

Casey Benjamin, July 2017 (Tabatha Fireman/Redferns)

Casey Benjamin, an original Robert Glasper Experiment member who went on to play saxophone, keyboards, and other instruments with artists including Solange and A Tribe Called Quest, has died, HuffPost reports, citing Benjamin’s management. Benjamin was 45 years old.

In a statement shared with Pitchfork, Benjamin’s family said:

It is with the deepest sorrow that the Benjamin family shares the heartbreaking news of the passing of Casey Benjamin. Casey was recovering from a recent surgery, and we are still gathering all the facts.

We have been deeply touched by the outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and Casey’s esteemed music community. Casey stayed true to the art of his music, and the energy of his spirit will live on in eternity.

We are committed to continuing Casey’s legacy.

Further information will be shared on Casey’s memorial site:

Thank you for your continued support and compassion.

Casey Benjamin was born in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York, where he learned to play saxophone at the age of 8. He went on to study music at the Harlem School of the Arts and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, performing with local jazz crews, New York mainstays like Arto Lindsay, and, later, Robert Glasper, with whom he collaborated in the late 1990s before joining the first iteration of Robert Glasper Experiment in 2004. He also formed the funk outfit Heavy with Nicole Guiland in the 2000s.

As well as performing live solo shows, Benjamin built a formidable list of collaborators, on record and on the road, in jazz, rap, and R&B, as well as further afield; in interviews, he alluded to working with Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Nas, and Arcade Fire. He is credited with keyboards on Solange and Q-Tip’s Borderline (An Ode to Self Care),” from A Seat at the Table, and on multiple tracks on A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. He toured with Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump and recently joined Sinkane on the album We Belong.

Responding to the news of Benjamin’s death, Sinkane shared studio footage on X, writing that the multi-instrumentalist was “one of the greatest musicians of our time.” Lupe Fiasco, who worked with Benjamin on the 2012 song “Strange Fruition,” called him a “masterpiece of a person.”

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Robert Glasper said, “Casey was one of the most gifted and talented beings ever. He was the epitome of what it means to be unique and one of a kind. The true meaning of a genius at his craft. There is no Robert Glasper Experiment without him. The world lost a giant and I lost a brother. I’m forever honored to have shared the stage and my life with him.”

In the months before his death, Benjamin had been working alongside Q-Tip on the Muhammad Ali Broadway show Ali.

Originally Appeared on Pitchfork