Pianist and bandleader Benito Gonzalez is back with his second CD as a leader with “Circles” on Furthermore Recordings. His musical backup comes in the form of Azar Lawrence and Ron Blake on Tenor Saxophone, Myron Walden on both Alto and Soprano Saxophones, Christian McBride on Bass, and Jeff “Tain” Watts on Drums. Benito pays tribute to his musical heroes such as McCoy Tyner and the late Kenny Kirkland.
Born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, his family played music and his uncle taught him how to play the organ at age 10. It wasn’t until he became interested in jazz when his mother played artists and groups like Return to Forever, Headhunters, and Chick Corea that he found had similar musical stylings like his native Venezuelan music called gaita. At 16, he moved to Caracas, the capitol of Venezuela, where he began playing professionally. One night while he was playing at a club, record producer Nicolas Robertson was in town working on an album with Ghanaian master percussionist Okyerema Asante. Robertson asked him to record on Asante’s record and asked him to move to Washington, D.C. By 2000 Benito followed his heart and moving to D.C. he linked up with saxophonist Rene McLean’s group. Rene, the son of the legendary Jackie McLean.
Under the advice of Rene, Benito auditioned for his father for the The Artist Collective and opening for pianist in Jackie’s group. He played with Jackie for close to four years. Gonzalez also won the 2005 Great American Jazz Piano Competition at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.
Currently, he’s a leader as well as a member Alto Saxophonist Kenny Garrett’s group.
To find out his upcoming tour dates as well as order his latest CD “Circles,” visit him on the web at benitogonzalez.com
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