At a mere 7 weeks old, twin brothers Jack and Benny Lipson were baptized in the music of the Lord—Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber—when they embarked on the second national tour of Evita, starring their mother in the title role. The family lived a year in fine hotels across North America, then settled in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, where each night the boys would dry after a tandem bath while their father played Beatles albums on the vinyl player. Sometimes he liked to air-conduct to Tchaikovsky recordings too, even though he knew nothing of conducting. And during the daytime, Jack and Benny either listened to their mother learning and rehearsing material for her latest musical endeavors, or to their grandmother improvising piano arrangements of familiar songbook melodies. They could only satiate their musical curiosity further by beginning piano lessons themselves, which soon evolved into voice and musicianship training from a most inspiring and unconventional teacher.
Middle school introduced Jack and Benny to jazz idioms as well as new musical tools: Benny began to teach himself bass while Jack forayed behind the drum set and all kinds of percussion. Then the brothers’ performing arts high school only piqued more musical infatuations; after he watched the school’s orchestra perform Holst’s The Planets, Jack consumed as much classical as he could, reading scores in the practice rooms at lunchtime and eventually focusing on writing his own. Meanwhile Benny played bass with the school’s big band and sang intricately rich harmonies in the vocal jazz ensemble. Nonetheless they continued to jam on songs by Wings, Todd Rundgren, Yes, and more together, as well as regularly attend the theater and parties where their parents’ friends sang and reminisced through the night.
Upon finishing high school, Benny and Jack lived apart for the first time in their brief lives, Benny relocating to Miami to study jazz voice and Jack staying local in Los Angeles to hone his classical composition. Benny engaged deeper with the American songbook and the art of arranging, often reappropriating the songs of his discovered heroes Harry Nillsson and Paul Simon for his jazz classes. He also found in playing guitar a more portable musical expression with which he could more facilely share his favorite and original songs. Back home, Jack basked in art song and opera, and accompanied his friends singing Mozart, Verdi, Ravel, Britten, Sondheim, and everything in between. Even though he was writing exclusively contemporary classical music for dance pieces and chamber ensembles, Jack still cherished recording artists like Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, and Stevie Wonder. The craft of poetic but concise songwriting magnetized the brothers despite their couple thousand mile-distance, and affirmed Benny’s imminent return to LA after his studies.
Jack and Benny were never closer than now, however they still musicked separate of one another, Benny playing bass in a range of local bands and Jack musical directing and accompanying theater productions. They ruminated upon what kind of material they could create and share together, plagued by the postmodern search for an artistic voice that compounds myriad and perhaps disparate influences…And the Lipsons finally realized that their knack for dramatic melody and harmony coupled with meticulously provocative lyrics can unify the gamut of artistic styles they continue to explore; thus birthed jackbenny.
jackbenny shared their Los Angeles debut show in 2016 with musician-comedian Reggie Watts, and have since played their “sensational, clever, and astute” originals as far as Falam, Myanmar. For 10 monthly performances jackbenny incubated in residency at LA’ s Lyric Hyperion Theatre, and subsequently exported their shows Happiness is trending and It’s National See-a-Show Day! to the Luckman Fine Arts Complex and then across the states in New York (at Birdland Theater), Chicago, San Francisco, and San Diego. Jack and Benny presented a reading of their original “musicalette” Miranda, Please! at the 2017 Wyoming Theater Festival, and songs from Brainstorm, a 3-character revue of their material, have resounded at new musical showcases in both LA (at Rockwell Stage) and NY (at The Duplex).
As prowling cats about town, Jack and Benny have supported such luminaries as Idina Menzel, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Barry Manilow and many more at iconic LA venues including The Hollywood Bowl and Disney Hall. jackbenny serves as house band for both Jonnie Reinhart’s Revolver Revue and A Queer Cabaret, where they've collaborated with Darren Criss, Michael Arden, and others. With Ashley Joyce, they co-founded and play For Good: a monthly night of showtunes to save the world, which for nearly two years has donated over $10k to local Los Angeles charities. The Lipsons regularly curate events for Center Theater Group, and are now preparing two musical engagements for the LA Philharmonic in 2020.