The fusion of world rhythms and straight-ahead jazz make this passionate performer an audience favorite all over the world. Benito Gonzalez is being recognized as an exciting pianist and composer for his well-received debut album, “Starting Point” (Christian McBride, Antonio Sanchez, Rene McLean, Ron Blake) and as winner of the 2005 Great American Jazz Piano Competition.
Presently, Benito is creating a very personal body of work for his sophomore album as a leader that will feature him as an improviser. After two years touring with international jazz artist, Kenny Garrett, he added numerous festivals and international jazz club dates to his credit. Benito has shared the stage with Curtis Fuller, Pharaoh Sanders, Bobby Hutcherson, Christian McBride, Ignacio Berroa, Roy Hargrove, Rene McLean, Steve Turre, Hamiet Bluiett, Antonio Sanchez, T.K. Blue, Nicholas Payton and Jackie Mclean.
His multi-cultural talents have led to frequent recording dates; from American jazz masters to West African musicians to Latin bands. He has also served as musical director for several Venezuelan recording artists.
The Benito Gonzalez Trio has appeared at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland and the Jacksonville Jazz Festival in addition to many other noted jazz venues.
JAZZIZ REVIEW [MAY 2005]:
Venezuela has produced more than its share of top-flight pianists. Ed Simon, Silvano Monasterios, and Otmaro Ruiz have been established members of the U.S. jazz scene for more than a decade. Now two impressive new talents have joined them.
The sessions of Luis Perdomo and Benito Gonzalez demonstrate many similarities: Both dates feature a mix of well-known Latin and non-Latin sidemen, both spotlight a saxophone as the primary improvizational foil to the leader's piano, and both engage in unaccompanied solo forays. But they emerge as wholly individual voices...
...Gonzalez's approach is generally more deliberate and reflective. The character of such works as "Plaza Bolivar" evolves slowly. Here, the pianist's unflinching ostinato line allows his right hand to fly fancifully before Ron Blake's clarinet enters and ushers in a somber mood. When Rene McLean's tenor sax joins the procession, with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonio Sanchez pitching in, the piece morphs into a free-leaning blowing vehicle. Impressively, the groove never strays too far from the threads of melodic beauty he weaves throughout. The long form of most of the pianist's arrangements allow the listener to get lost in suite-like structure of his works, the crescendos of ensemble fireworks, and the often bluesy musings he intersperses throughout. If this represents Gonzalez's Starting Point, I can't wait to hear what follows.