John Benitez

John Benetiz web

A native of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Benítez's love and passion for music started in his Pentecostal congregation as he was exposed to gospel music at the early of age 13 when he was the bass player in the church band. The son of a troubadour specialized in the folkloric music of the hills of Puerto Rico, Benítez grew up surrounded by music. He rapidly learned to play and understand the functions of Afro-Caribbean percussion instruments within the genres of Latin and tropical music, while gaining command of the acoustic guitar and piano. But the deep resonating sounds of the bass (both acoustic and electric) and the size of said instrument finally won his heart.

In 1993, Benítez joined Willie Colón's orchestra, touring the U.S. from coast to coast and concluding the tour with a performance at a White House party for President Clinton. During that party, he met legendary bass master Ron Carter, who invited Benítez to New York City for private studies under his supervision. He immediately relocated to the Big Apple and enrolled at the City College of New York where he indeed studied with Carter and later with the contrabassist guitarist Anthony Jackson. Aside from the formal classroom studies, Benítez furthered his musical knowledge on the bandstand, performing with the cream of the crop from the jazz and Latin music scenes. He played with Wynton Marsalis, Tito Puente, Michel Camilo, Dave Valentín, Eddie Palmieri, Bobby Watson, David Sánchez, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart, Danilo Pérez, Kenny Kirkland, Will Calhoun, Chucho Valdés, Dave Samuels, and Mongo Santamaría. Benítez has recorded with over 30 artists and bands in the past 10 years, including Roy Hargrove's Crisol Band's Grammy-winning recording Habana, David Sánchez's Grammy-nominated CD Obsesión, and various productions with Tito Puente, the Caribbean Jazz Project, the Mingus Big Band, Antonio Hart, the Tropijazz All Stars, Hilton Ruiz, Descarga Boricua, William Cepeda, Christo Rafalides' Manhattan Vibes, and Eddie Palmieri (who calls Benítez "the greatest bass player in the world").

Although Benítez is extremely fluid in the jazz idiom, he is even better at interpreting the rhythms and styles of his native Afro-Caribbean regions and the entire Pan American music book. As he puts it himself, "For me it's all the same, one great dance music, all the Caribbean, South America and New Orleans are but an extension of African music, music with that special bounce. That's what I like the most." John Benítez, an excellent example of a true musician, an educator, artist, gentleman and a spiritual human being.

Instrument - Hofner Double Bass