Each night after they took a tandem bath in their quiet home in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, twin brothers Jack and Benny Lipson would dry 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, they listened to their mother learning and rehearsing material for the musicals in which she performed, or their grandmother improvising piano arrangements of older showtunes. They could only satiate their musical curiosity further by beginning piano lessons themselves, which then developed into voice and musicianship training from their most inspiring and unconventional teacher, Gerald White.
Middle school introduced Jack and Benny to jazz idioms as well as new musical tools: Benny began to teach himself bass while Jack explored the drum set and all kinds of percussion. Then, the performing arts high school only piqued more musical interests; 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 dove deeper into jazz, playing bass with the school’s big band and singing intricately rich harmonies in the vocal jazz ensemble. Nonetheless they continued to rejoice in the music of their more distant childhood, jamming to Wings, Todd Rundgren, Yes, and more together, as well as regular trips to 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 new heroes Harry Nillsson, Paul Simon, and the Zombies