The Kennedy Center

Benny Green

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    Derek Gordon discusses Benny Green and Russell Malone's performance at the KC Jazz Club



Biography

Born in New York in 1963, Benny Green grew up in Berkeley, California, and began classical piano studies at the age of seven. Influenced by his father, a tenor saxophonist, his attention soon turned to Jazz. He began trying to improvise on the piano, imitating the records he had been listening to from his father's collection, which included a lot of Thelonius Monk and Charlie Bird. He played in school bands before joining the jazz singer Fay Carroll who taught him how to accompany, about the blues, and let him open for her each night as part of an instrumental trio.

As a teenager Mr. Green worked with Eddie Henderson, and gained big band experience with a 12-piece group led by Chuck Israels. After graduation, he freelanced around the Bay Area for a year, and then moved to New York in the spring of 1982. There he met veteran pianist Walter Bishop Jr. who became his teacher, both on the keyboard and for the history of jazz piano. After a short stint with Bobby Watson, Mr. Green worked with Betty Carter between 1983 and 1987, the year he joined Art Blakey's band. He remained a Jazz Messenger through late 1989, when he joined Freddie Hubbard's Quintet.

In 1993 Oscar Peterson chose Mr. Green as the first recipient of the City of Toronto's Glenn Gould International Protégé Prize in Music. That year, he also replaced Gene Harris in Ray Brown's Trio, and remained with the veteran bass player until 1997. Since 1997 Mr. Green has worked as a freelance musician, leading his own trios, accompanying singers like Diana Krall, and working as a solo pianist.

His recording career already encompasses more than one hundred sessions. As a leader Mr. Green's recordings include two albums: Prelude (1988) and In This Direction (1989). In 1990 Benny started recording and these recordings include Lineage (1990), Greens (1991), Testifyin' (1992), That's Right! (1993), The Place To Be (1994), Kaleidoscope (1997) and These Are Soulful Days (1999). He has also recorded Funky and Oscar & Benny with Oscar Peterson. Benny Green mentions Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Phineas Newborn, Bud Powell and Oscar Peterson as some of the pianists who have deeply influenced him.

Benny Green

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