Some nice comments about ORQUESTA Z: Thank you all!
Dawn F, after Berkeley Nadir Tango (6/9/2019)
I am in awe of your music, your orchestra, your depth of musical knowledge.
This is the very first milonga I have attended and wow, did you set the bar sky high for future ones.
Malia Welch, after Berkeley Empanada Milonga (2/7/2016)
Great musicians, beautiful venue, smooth floor...best Sunday afternoon milonga combo ever :)
Frank Tapia, after Berkeley Empanada Milonga (2/7/2016)
Ben, monthly sweet tango music in a beautiful setting is a no brainer. Thank you for enriching our lives.
Greg White, producer of House Tango, Berkeley (8/5/2015)
There were one hundred confirmed guests for the evening. His objective was to, "share the passion, the joy, the sadness, and the intimacy of Argentine tango." Many musicians can only play other peoples music - Ben has composed many beautiful tangos with passion, joy, and sadness. He orchestrates his compositions and directs his Orquesta Z to render tango sentiments, transforming tango music into tango emotion in the hearts and bodies of the dancers.
Ojai Deb. after Burning Tango, McCloud, California (6/29/2014):
Orquesta Z! I was going to take a rest…but instead I heard the first song - exquisite! Beautiful arrangements, wonderfully skilled players. LOVELY execution! Thank you.
Rebecca C. after Berkeley Empanada Milonga (6/8/2014):
Orquesta Z’s performance this month in Berkeley was like the cool ocean breeze on a hot summer afternoon for me.
First of all, I like the musicality lesson Ben gave, he has an unique view from his Tai Qi experience. It is very helpful in lead and follow in dance if we can really master it, as everything in life is connected.
Second, this band has all key-note players: two violins, a pianist, a bass, and a bandoneon, which gives the band full-arm power to play a variety of classical and modern music. Some of them also play guitar and other instruments. I think the architect in music arrangement as a tango band is very good. Ben did a good job as director with the help of each talented musician in the band. The music and songs they played were not only beautiful and romantic to our ears but also quite easy for our feet to follow.
The band’s devotion to music was flowing to the dance floor through their agile fingers and passionate voice. The band played nearly two hours; many dancers did not care to rest their feet even got heavy sweat. Also, very appreciate the abundant and delicious food and drink Ben prepared for the party, it is really a lovely treat there.
Thanks for the hard work of every member in Orquesta Z.
Jerry Coe after Berkeley Empanada Milonga (5/11/2014):
To the SF Bay Area Tango community: You are missing out if you have not danced to Orquesta Z at the Empanada Milonga 2nd Sunday of every month in Berkeley. I have been studying tango about 11 years. I have danced in BsAs, Berlin, Paris, NYC, and elsewhere, But I want to say yesterday's milonga was the best music, best dance floor, and best atmosphere I have danced to in my tango lifetime.
Jennifer V.M. after Empanada Milonga (3/6/2014):
I had a fabulous time; will make it a regular stop!
Ashkenaz Community Music and Dance Center, Berkeley (3/2014):
The sizzling dance band Orquesta Z returns to our stage, playing classic and new tango music for dancers. Formed in 2011, Berkeley-based Orquesta Z is composed of musicians with a love for Argentine tango. Their repertoire is rich with Golden Era Argentine tangos from the 1930s thru ‘50s, plus modern and original compositions from the ‘60s through today from around the world.
Berkeleyside, independent internet news site, Berkeley CA (2/27/2014):
Founded by Jong around the end of 2010, Orquesta Z is a quintet featuring an impressive cast of musicians, including violinist and Crowden School instructor Jim Shallenberger, a founding member of Kronos Quartet who spent years touring with the hugely popular production Forever Tango. Holy Names Symphony violinist Carol Braves was earliest member of the ensemble to join Jong, followed by Prometheus Symphony bassist Sandy Schniewind, and pianist Barbie Wong, who teaches at the Oakland Public Conservatory and also plays a mean ukulele.- Andrew Gilbert
Karen Lile (after Ashkenaz Milonga, Berkeley (10/21/13):
Thank you and to Orquesta Z for the marvelous music last night. Your choice of songs and the musicality they were performed with, was great! Our guests, students and friends enjoyed listening to and dancing to the music. The staff at Ashkenaz were impressed by you and Orquesta Z. It was gratifying to have such a nice turnout on your first visit to Ashkenaz Lets do it again!
Mary Gulick (after Empanada Milonga, 8/13):
Here's to the fine musicians of Orquesta Z...Grand Finale Bash at Garden Gate Creativity Center! Thank you for gifting us your passion for the beautiful music of tango.
Barbie Wong (pianist for June 30, 2013 concert with Orquesta Z):
I feel so fortunate to have played such lively, demanding, and original music with a friendly and skilled group of musicians. Bendrew, the leader of this group, even wrote some of the music we played. He taught himself to play the bandoneon, the traditional tango instrument which is related the accordion. Sandy Schiewind played a steady double bass, guiding me along when I needed it. Jim Schallenberger, a seasoned violinist, gave me wonderful tips in the short time we worked together. Jim is one of the founding members of the Kronos Quartet, an internationally-renowned string quartet. Resh Ortega’s lush vocals and vibrant bandoneon-playing still ring in my mind. Sadly, Resh died in a car accident a month after this concert. We lost a truly talented musical soul.
Mungai Waweru (after Empanada Milonga):
Thanks for the wonderful afternoon of live music & dancing Bendrew Jong !! You and Orchestra Z ROCK!!!
Damien de Gotán (listening to www.OrquestaZ.tumblr.com)
Thank goodness for modern orchestras like Orquesta Z for those who just love dancing to live music!
Kate Piatek (Pensalo Bien milonga):
Orquesta Z is the newest and the most hip Bay Area Tango orchestra. They are the Sexteto...2 bandoneons (!), 2 violins, bass and piano. And vocals ! Yes, those musicians are quite versatile and very talented.
Terry De Grace-Morris (after Pensalo Bien milonga):
I am in love! With Orquesta Z!! How delicious an offering of musical selections for tango. I feel full and very satisfied. Thank you.
Ellen Levitt (after Garden Gate milonga):
I had a wonderful time last night, it was my first time attending your milonga and it for sure won't be the last. The space is lovely, the orchestra was amazing.
Dominica Kriz (after Garden Gate milonga):
Bravo, Orquesta Z! What a treat it was to spend the afternoon/ early evening with you and such a delightful group of tangueros y tangueras.
Bobbi Noyer (after 2nd Giorgi concert):
It was a delightful afternoon... It was so nice to hear your band a second time. You guys sounded even better than the first time we heard you play. I loved the tunes that you wrote. They are lovely. Your program was 1st class and your commentary was very enjoyable and really personalized the music. The Gallery is a great space filled with good energy. Every one I talked to loved the concert and the venue. Best Wishes for an on going success!!
David Graybill (after Claremont milonga):
The milonga at the Claremont Hotel was fabulous last night! Ton of dancers from Sacramento. The live music provided by Bendrew Jong and Orquesta Z was great!
Francesca Saveri (after Belrose milonga):
What a great afternoon of music. Thanks so much for playing very danceABLE tunes with a super mix! That was the most enjoyable milonga in a long time.
Lusi Morhayim Kandiyoti (after Giorgi concert):
Ben, thank you so much for inviting. It was a pleasure to listen Orquesta Z and hear a little information about each song. I enjoyed a lot and you guys were great. I am looking forward to dance in a milonga when you play.
I second that emotion! Can't wait to get the CD . . . and watch a video of your group playing. . . it was ecstatic! (and I do not use that word lightly!)
Ben, It was a true pleasure to hear you sing and interpret the music as well as your own composition. The musicians are also very gifted.
Can't wait to come to your next performance. xo
I can't wait to tango dance to your music at many, many milongas! Abrazos, Michele
Wow, I had no idea THAT's what you've been up to all these months, ie. a full out orquestita! Really enjoyed the music and the way you featured the musicians, and delivered some unique commentary on the pieces. You have pulled together an outstanding group of musicians...felicidades! I for one vote for more singing the tango ballads at milongas.
You are amazing. Thank you so much for this. I would love to hear your other compositions too. Have you recorded them?