Setup/Gear/Manufacturer of Instruments:
Trumpet: Bach Stradivarius 72H, 43 leadpipe, Large Bore
Mouthpiece: Bach 3C
Flugelhorn: Carolbrass Artist Endorser – CLF-6200-GSS
Mouthpiece: Carolbrass custom leadpipe fit specifically for their 3C
Trumpet Player Benny Benack III
Located in Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Why did you begin studying music?
I grew up in a musical household, with both parents being musicians. My mother is a vocalist and teaches in the Music Theatre department at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, while my father is a jazz saxophonist. I grew up listening to jazz as a child, and as the story goes my father used to stick the bell of his clarinet against my mother’s belly when I was in the womb and play – Let’s just say I was exposed to music at a VERY young age!
What are you doing with music right now?
I graduated from the Manhattan School of Music in May w/a full scholarship for Jazz Trumpet Performance. After a summer spent living in NYC hustling, gigging, networking, and building my career, I went straight back to MSM for my Master’s degree in Jazz, where I’m currently balancing my responsibilities there with an active performing and teaching career! I’m singing and playing around NYC more than ever, both as a leader and sideman. I’ve been fortunate to play and lead groups at some of the finest jazz clubs in the world, including Jazz @ Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, the Blue Note, Small’s Jazz Club, Smoke Jazz Club, and many more. I’ve also been recording extensively, being featured as a trumpeter/scat vocalist on trombonist Mike Dease’s upcoming big band album, as well as playing trumpet and co-composing a tune for drummer Ulysses Owens Jr.’s upcoming album.
Who are some of your influences?
Trumpet-wise, the list is huge but I’ll try to condense: Clifford Brown, Nicholas Payton, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham, Woody Shaw, Sean Jones, Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis, Miles Davis, Clark Terry, Donald Byrd, LOUIS ARMSTRONG, Roy Eldridge, Benny Benack Sr. (my grandfather was a dixieland/swing trumpeter!), and countless, countless others.
Vocally, my influences are mixed, fusing many of the great jazz crooners with some of my other favorite voices regardless of genre:
Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Wayne Newton, Harry Connick Jr., Lou Rawls, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Hartman, Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, Billy Eckstine, George Benson, James Moody, and many, many more.
Who do you/have you studied with?
A couple of great Pittsburgh trumpet players got me started, first I studied w/Joe Herndon for my formative years, and then with my high school band director, Frank Eisenreich (Pittsburgh Ballet trumpeter for many years). In high school I was connected with Sean Jones in Pittsburgh, and he became my teacher and mentor for about 4 years before I headed off to college. At the Manhattan School, I studied with the legendary Laurie Frink for my entire undergraduate degree (4 years) before her unexpected passing this summer. I’m currently studying with Scott Wendholt and Greg Gisbert, and have also had the occasional lesson with the likes of Marcus Printup, Terell Stafford, Jim Rotondi, and a few others.
What do you plan on doing with music in the future?
My goals in the near future are to be consistently working and performing as a leader and sideman not only in NYC, but touring and traveling worldwide as well. I hope to also be recording albums, and continuing to develop my teaching skills and network as well. I’m not sure which path will take the forefront at this point, but I’m going to continue singing, playing the history of jazz, as well as playing new music of mine and others. I love all different kinds of music, and don’t want to be exclusive to any sect if I can help it! Way down the road I would love to parlay a successful music career into acting, much in the way Harry Connick Jr. did. I acted some and performed in musicals as a kid, and would relish the opportunity to work those chops out again!
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