By age 28, trumpeter and singer Benny Benack III has proven to be a rare talent: not only a fiery trumpet player with a stirring command of the postbop trumpet vernacular in the vein of Kenny Dorham and Blue Mitchell, but also a singer with a sly, mature, naturally expressive delivery in the post-Sinatra mold, performing standards and his own astute songs with a thrilling sense of showmanship. His superb intonation and bracing virtuosity enable him to handle astounding feats of originally composed vocalese (complex solos with written lyrics). And he’s a highly capable pianist as well.
Benny performs widely as a frontman for Postmodern Jukebox, the vintage music collective famed for canny old-school covers of modern pop. In early 2020, he released A Lot of Livin’ to Do, the follow-up to his well-received 2017 debut album, One of a Kind. This sophomore effort, richly varied in mood and brimming with bop inflection, features bassist extraordinaire Christian McBride and drummer/producer Ulysses Owens, Jr., as well as the radiant Takeshi Ohbayashi on piano and Rhodes.
Benny’s been showcased in international headliner tours at Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai, JALC’s “NY Jazz All-Stars” (Mexico) and extensively all over Asia and Europe. He has headlined domestic tours around the U.S. including the Vail Jazz Party, Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, Pittsburgh JazzLive International, the Vancouver Jazz Festival and the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival in East Lansing, MI, to name a few. Benny's been featured at Birdland, Mezzrow, Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle and other leading New York venues. Alongside his work as a leader, he has played in the house band for NBC’s “Maya & Marty,” and appeared as a trumpet soloist across genres with the Christian McBride Big Band, Diplo/Major Lazer, Ann Hampton Callaway, Melissa Errico, Josh Groban, Ben Folds, fashion icon Isaac Mizrahi and more.
Benny was a 2014 finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition, and winner of the 2011 Carmine Caruso International Trumpet Competition. He is highly sought after as a clinician and educator, leading workshops for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz for Young People program, as well as the New York Youth Symphony’s Education department. In 2020 he will lead a panel at the annual Jazz Congress on Audience Engagement, together with Christian McBride, Marilyn Maye and Veronica Swift.
Third in a generational line of Pittsburgh jazz notables, Benny follows in the footsteps of his trumpeter/bandleader grandfather, Benny Benack, Sr. (1921-86), and his father Benny Benack, Jr., a saxophonist/clarinetist who gave the young Benny his first professional experience. Benny, Sr. hailed from a Pittsburgh lineage that also produced Roy Eldridge, Earl Hines, Art Blakey, Billy Strayhorn and so many more. He recorded the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 1960 theme song “Beat ’Em Bucs” and toured with Tommy Dorsey and Raymond Scott, among others. Benny III returns to Pittsburgh often to perform, saluting his family forebears and the jazz heritage as a whole, nonetheless staking his bold and highly individual artistic claim.
Benny Benack III endorses P. Mauriat Trumpets, Torpedo Bag Cases, CarolBrass Flugelhorn and X-Suit Menswear.