AboutAt age 22, award-winning tenor saxophonist, composer, and Rico Reeds Artist Eli Bennett, is emerging as one of the top new talents on the Canadian jazz scene. Based in Toronto & Vancouver, Bennett recently graduated in 2011 from Humber College in Toronto with a Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Performance, and is the most awarded and distinguished young saxophonist in Canada. Bennett has also performed with over two-dozen jazz luminaries, including Oscar Peterson, Dave Holland, Hank Jones, James Moody, Terence Blanchard, Chris Potter, and Barry Harris.
Since first picking up the saxophone at age 12, Bennett quickly progressed under the guidance of saxophone master Stan Karp (Joe Henderson/Buddy Collette), and began to play professionally at age 14. In 2005, at the age of 15, Bennett won the Rico Reed Award for best high school saxophonist in Canada at Musicfest, and continued throughout high school and college to win over thirty prestigious domestic and international awards. Selected awards include: the 2007 Yamaha Kando Award for best young musician in Canada, the 2008 Dr. Oscar Peterson/Verve Canada Award, the 2009 Jazz.FM91/Mary Elizabeth Stuart Award from the Toronto International Jazz Festival, the 2009 Oscar Peterson Prize, the 2010 Rising Star Award from the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival, as well as being a two-time recipient of the CBC/Galaxie Rising Star Award from the National Jazz Awards in Toronto and the Ottawa International Jazz Festival. Bennett was the first musician to win the Fraser MacPherson Scholarship for both high-school and college categories for best instrumentalist in western Canada and in 2008, was the first and only Canadian to have been awarded the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Award for best international jazz saxophonist under 21 since its inception in 1989.
In 2007, Bennett was selected for a second consecutive year by the Grammy Foundation as the only Canadian to perform with the Gibson/Baldwin Grammy Jazz Ensembles at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, where he performed at numerous Grammy events, including the Grammy Salute to Jazz, The Nominee Reception, the Post-Party Celebration, recorded an album at Capitol Recording Studios in Hollywood, and walked the red carpet, where Bennett attended the Grammy Awards telecast. Also in 2007, Bennett was awarded the prestigious Oscar Peterson Grant for Jazz Performance; a $10,000 grant awarded by the Hnatyshyn Foundation, established by Ramon Hnatyshyn; Canada’s 24th Governor General. In 2008, Bennett was awarded internationally as the only Canadian to the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellowship, an international jazz sixtet of the brightest musical minds in North America and performed in Miami for the YoungArts Conference and in Toronto for the final IAJE Conference.
Bennett’s compositions have also garnered international awards, including a 2007 DownBeat Music Award for “Mistaken Perception”, an award from the International Songwriting Competition, and a 2011 DownBeat Award for “Going Up” in Undergrad Composition.
While attending Humber College in Toronto from 2007-2011, Bennett studied closely with mentors Kirk MacDonald, Pat LaBarbera, and briefly with Chris Potter. As a member of the Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble for four years, the top ensemble in the school directed by Denny Christianson, Bennett toured England for nine days, performed headline/sold-out concerts in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, toured British Columbia, and recorded four albums available on Humber Records.
In 2011, Bennett was awarded the distinguished Fred Sherratt Award from MusiCounts Canada, a division of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, for outstanding achievement, leadership, academic excellence, and talent in the music industry. Bennett was one of twelve graduating undergrad musicians from across Canada to accept the award in Toronto at MuchMusic and CHUM Radio.
Recently, Bennett led a quartet that performed on the popular Science Channel series Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman "Does Time Really Exist", which aired Internationally in June, 2011.
Bennett has performed on and written music for over half a dozen film scores, and has also been featured on numerous TV, radio shows, and print magazines, such as ET Canada, MTV, CTV’s Canada AM, CBC Radio, JazzFM91’s ‘Jazzology’, and DownBeat Magazine. Bennett’s debut album as a leader, “Going Up”; Eli Bennett Quartet, is scheduled for an upcoming release in 2013.