Meet the world-renowned pianist and music sensation, Benito Gonzalez. This two-time Grammy nominee has captivated audiences globally with his exceptional talents and unique sound. With a fusion of traditional American jazz and worldly rhythms, he is a true musical innovator. Having collaborated with some of the greatest artists in the industry, Benito always brings his A-game to the stage.
Pianist Benito Gonzalez “Two time Grammy nominee” is an internationally beloved artist who combines a long lineage of American jazz traditions with rhythms from around the world. He’s worked with dozens of the greats, and he always brings some of the best rhythm section players in the world.
Today a rising tide of young jazz pianists are attempting to find their distinct voices by taking cues from their elders. But only a few take their artistry beyond their predecessors to make bold 88-key statements on their journeys to new vistas, fresh sounds, inspired expressions. That personal-touch devotion to the wonders of the instrument brings with it a certitude of intuitive creativity.
That fortitude fuels Benito Gonzalez, an exhilarating pianist who won the 2005 Great America Jazz Piano Competition and was honored in 2020 to be a Steinway & Sons artist for “his sound [that] is recognizable for the powerful rhythm section and Afro-Latin patterns he prioritizes across his projects.” The Venezuela-born, New York-based artist grew up playing traditional Venezuelan folk music with his family before absorbing the inventiveness of such pianists as Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett who inspired him to join in the explorations on the instrument.
Gonzalez went on to play with Jackie McLean in 2003, then joined Kenny Garrett’s quartet for seven years until 2013—during which time he garnered two Grammy band nominations. After his stint with Garrett, he played with saxophonist Azar Lawrence’s band and then in 2019 joined saxophone legend Pharoah Sanders as his pianist/musical director.
Through the course of his career, Gonzalez has been instrumental as a sideman in performing and recording with such jazz greats as Bobby Hutcherson, Dave Liebman, Gary Bartz, Curtis Fuller, Al Foster, Lenny White, Billy Hart, Ignacio Berroa, Jeff”Tain”Watts, Buster Williams, Rene McLean, Steve Turre, Delfeayo Marsalis, Hamiet Bluiett, Ron Blake, Antonio Sanchez, Mark Gross, and Azar Lawrence.
With propulsive pulse and Afro-Latin percussive drive, Gonzalez placed rhythm at the core of 2021’s Sing to the World, his fifth album and first released on the St. Petersburg, Russia label Rainy Days Records. He assembled an impressive team of collaborators, including Christian McBride, Essiet Okon Essiet, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and Nicholas Payton as well as rising stars Russian drummer Sasha Mashin, trumpeter Josh Evans.
In addition to his slow-to-upbeat originals, Gonzalez added to the set list two compositions that had never been recorded by their composers: Roy Hargrove’s soulful “Father” and the “Tain” beauty “416.” After almost seven years of touring with Kenny Garrett, Benito has added numerous festivals and international jazz club dates to his credit. In 2019 he joined legendary saxophonist Pharoah Sanders as pianist and musical director.
For this performance Benito assembles a swinging rhythm section with Will Slater on bass and Ari Hoenig on Drums.
Will Slater, a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, is an in-demand bassist, performing regularly in New York and New England. Will has performed with Jerry Bergonzi, Jeff “Tain” Watts, George Garzone, Gary Thomas, Peter Bernstein, Anthony Wonsey, Bruce Barth, Kenny Werner, Terri Lyne Carrington, Leo Genovese, Dayna Stephens, Ari Hoenig, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Benito Gonzalez, David Schnitter, Jeb Patton, Tommy Campbell, Joe Hunt, Bob Moses, Kimberly Thompson, Mark Guiliana, Yoron Israel, Rudy Royston, Jeff Hershfield, Tim Miller, Vardan Ovsepian, Joe Magnerelli, Phil Grenadier, Rob Schniederman, Greg Hopkins, Jason Palmer, Greg Osby, Yoko Miwa, Gabriel Guerrero, and many other artists. He has performed at such venues as the Blue Note, Birdland, 55 Bar, Smalls, Minton’s, Mezzrow, Keystone Korner, Cornelia Street Café, Scullers, the Regatta Bar, Wally’s, Jordan Hall, the Ryles Jazz Club and the Lily Pad.
Ari Hoenig is a jazz drummer, composer, and educator known for his unusual and intense approach to drumming emphasizing complex rhythms in direct harmony with other group members. Ari is widely noted particularly for his drumming not being relegated to just keeping tempo, or being a side issue to the music he plays in, but rather for elevating drumming as an indispensable part of the performance. After attending the prestigious University of North Texas for three years, Ari transferred to William Paterson College in northern New Jersey. He soon found himself playing for legendary Philadelphia organist Shirley Scott and working regularly in New York City. As an educator, Ari teaches privately and is on faculty at New York University and the New School for Social Research in New York. He gives clinics and lectures at music schools and universities worldwide.
Jazz973 produced by Gregory Burrus Productions for the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies. Please join us at Clements Place to experience one of the most exciting and dynamic jazz pianists on the live music scene today. Limited seating so please register today.
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