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    Eli Bennett

    This week we feature Eli Bennett, an award-winning saxophonist and composer based in Vancouver. A graduate of Humber College, Eli studied with Kirk MacDonald and Pat LaBarbera and performed with the Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble directed by Denny Christianson. Eli has performed at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, recorded at Capitol Records in Hollywood, and shared the stage with jazz legends Oscar Peterson, Dave Holland, Hank Jones, and Terence Blanchard.

    While still in his 20’s, Eli is a Rico Reeds Artist, a Yamaha Young Performing Artist, and a recent recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal awarded by the Premier of BC. Eli was also the recipient of the JAZZ.FM91 Mary Alice Stuart Scholarship Award in 2009.

    As a composer, his film scores have premiered and won awards at major film festivals including Cannes Film Festival, San Diego Film Festival, & Toronto’s Hot Docs. Eli’s debut album as leader will be released in the fall of 2014 on Addo Records.

    Having taken part in Jazzology in 2011, we asked Eli to describe his experience with the program and to tell us about his recent activities. Here is what he had to say:

    1) Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was your favourite aspect?

    I have been fortunate to have participated in many music education and professional development programs and my experience with the Jazzology program was unique. Working with Brad Barker was a thrill - I had always been a fan of his work on JAZZ.FM91, and he’s just so great to talk to. The entire process of selecting material beforehand to present on the show as well as discussing the significance and importance of the material with Brad when I arrived at the studio for the show was a pleasure.

    2) What is your strongest memory of the program? Are there any funny stories or incidents that come to mind?

    It was my first time at the JAZZ.FM91 studio, so I was given the tour and was really impressed with the facilities and the album archives. Also, working with Brad was a real highlight.

    3) Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians? Why?

    I would definitely recommend this program to other young musicians because of its value for career and professional development and the fact that it’s such a unique program. Developing a comfort in the studio with presenting music is an invaluable skill to have, as musicians and composers are often called to do similar interviews or to present music in this way. This ongoing program is key to helping younger musicians develop that skill and give them that first experience. To my knowledge, you won’t find this type of program anywhere else in North America, and that alone makes it extremely valuable and unique as an educational program!

    4) How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?

    Prior to Jazzology I had done numerous radio and TV interviews, but the educational aspect of Jazzology was unique in that it allowed me to learn more about the process of radio in depth - an important aspect that there’s usually no time to address when doing other radio interviews because of their deadlines and turnarounds.

    5) Jazzology is made possible by our generous donors and RBC Royal Bank who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?

    I’d offer my sincere thanks for their support of arts education. The arts play a significant role in society economically and culturally, and their support of artists doesn’t end with the artists themselves, but continues on to others in our communities and cities as the artist’s work is presented around the country and the world. It’s an important investment that continues to give back throughout society in various ways.

    6) Why is music education important?

    Music education is important in the same way that all education and further learning is important - it empowers the next generation with the set of skills they need to continue building our society. Specifically in the arts, whether it’s music, dance, literature, art, or film; music education is key to developing those key skills and experiences that connect the brilliant minds of today with the developing and emerging musical minds of tomorrow. Students in musical education programs today are the Juno Award winners of tomorrow.

    7) Since participating in the Jazzology program, what have you been doing?

    Since participating in the Jazzology program in 2011, I’ve been honored to be the recipient of many great opportunities. I graduated from Humber College in 2011, released a Chris Potter transcription eBook entitled “Chris Potter Plays Acapella Solo Standards” on my own publishing label (Eli Bennett Publishing) which has sold hundreds of copies worldwide, performed on the hit Science Channel show Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman with jazz quartet, and I was awarded the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award in 2012. In early 2012, I decided to pursue film scoring fulltime alongside of my performing schedule  and to date I have scored over thirty film projects which have premiered and won awards at prestigious film festivals such as Toronto’s Hot Docs, Cannes Film Festival, San Diego Film Festival, and many others. In early 2013, I was honored to receive the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal from BC Premier Christy Clark for achievement in music, and also received two Leo Award Nominations for Best Score in a Short Film.

    8) What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring?

    Because of my work writing music for film, I’ve been listening to a lot of film scores. Some of my favorite film composers are Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump, Castaway), Thomas Newman (Shawshank Redemption, Skyfall), James Horner (A Beautiful Mind, Braveheart),  and Alexandre Desplat (Benjamin Button, Zero Dark Thirty). I’m also really enjoying listening to a lot of classical music, especially Beethoven and Rachmaninoff. I also love listening to JAZZ.FM91 while cooking dinner!

    9) What are your plans for the future?

    This spring I’ll be recording my debut album with the Eli Bennett Quartet in Toronto which will be released on Addo Records in the fall of this year! Many thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts for their ongoing support! I have an amazing band as well as saxophonist Kirk MacDonald as producer. In addition, I’ll also be working on a number of exciting film projects this year as well as numerous major film festival premieres.

    10) How can people learn more about you and your activities?

    Website: www.elibennett.com
    Twitter: twitter.com/elibennettmusic
    Facebook: facebook.com/elibennettmusic
    IMDB: imdb.com/name/nm2415298/
    Instagram: instagram.com/elibennettmusic

    11) Is there anything else that you want to add?

    Thanks again to JAZZ.FM91 for your ongoing support of young artists! I look forward to visiting again soon!

    Jazzology is proudly sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists Project.


    About RBC and the Arts
    RBC sponsors a wide-range of grassroots and local initiatives that contribute to the cultural fabric of our communities. Proud to support events and passions that resonate with our clients and all Canadians, RBC provides opportunities for up-and-coming artists through programs such as the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, one of the largest competitions of its kind in the world; and the RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition, part of our commitment as the Official Bank and major sponsor of the world’s top public film festival – the Toronto International Film Festival®.

    Learn More about the RBC Emerging Artists Project

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