John Benitez resume contains an impressive list of who's-who in the world of music. Names such as Eddie Palmieri, Antonio Hart, Tito Puente, Wynton Marsalis, legendary Mongo Santamaria and the list goes on an on. Perhaps that is only a glimpse of the very talented Mr. Benitez who hails from Puerto Rico where he obtained a solid musical foundation.
In this, his debut recording for KHAOS World Music, "Descarga In New York" John Benitez tackles perhaps the most difficult of jazz formats, the trio. To quote him "The trio format is important for a bassist because it gives you a chance to develop and mature". In "Descarga..." John is backed by pianist Luis Perdomo, who composed most of the compositions and drummer Dafnis Prieto. Invited guests in the recording were hand drummer Richie Flores and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, yes, son of jazz icon John Coltrane. The musicianship of John Benitez and his group is unquestionable. The very first composition "Nuevo Montuno" sends the listener into a foot tapping, head waving approval. The theme is catchy, jazzy and the ensemble is tight with drummer Dafnis holding everything together with energy and invention. Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane is a beautiful complement to this group with his sultry tone and sense of improvisation in "Sun & Shadow", and if that is not enough, check him out on "J Bens Jazz" where his elegant playing is a joy. (I wonder where he got that from.) In "Long Time Waiting" pianists Luis Perdomo brings a "Evanesque" quality to his playing, lyrical and polished. The tune "Descarga Vieques" is the typical tour-de-force that embodies the Fania Descargas of it. This ground breaking recording establishes John Benitez as one of the premier young bassist and leaders of today. Look for him to continue to develop not only as a latin Jazz musician but as a musician period.