A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo by Steven Sussman, via All About Jazz

A recent review in DownBeat hails John Benitez as “one of today’s top ranking bassists.” Since moving to New York almost two decades ago, the bassist has performed with a staggering roster of iconic artists, including Chick Corea, John Scofield, Tito Puente, Roy Hargrove, Danilo Perez, and Eddie Palmieri, who once declared John to be “the best bass player in the world.”

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, John got his start early, enrolling in the Escuela Libre de Musica at the age of thirteen. He later completed additional studies at the University of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Conservatory, where he apprenticed under Federico Silva. Yet his thirst for knowledge soon brought him to New York, where he continued his education under the tutelage of Ron Carter at the City University of New York.

John is a three-time Grammy winner, recognized for his contributions to Roy Hargrove’s Habana, Bebo Valdez’s Bebo de Cuba, and Eddie Palmieri’s Listen Here! The bassist also appears on Grammy nominated recordings by David Sánchez and Conrad Herwig.

In 2011, John released his album Purpose (Seed Music), which features a core ensemble including the pianist Manuel Valera, the guitarist Tom Guarna, the alto saxophonist Will Vinson, and John’s son, the drummer Francis Benitez, as well as special guests. DownBeat calls it “enthralling.”

Like Claudia Acuña, who we profiled and presented last week, John is a veteran of The Jazz Gallery, having performed here almost twenty times in the last decade. On Saturday night, he brings his group SUBJECT to our stage, featuring the reedist John Ellis, the guitarist Vic Juris, the pianist Axel Tosca, and the drummer Francis Benitez.

Watch John’s group perform the title track from Purpose.