Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Alvaro
Benavides' interest in music began at the age of 12
when he heard Paquito D’Rivera’s album Why Not.
The sound of the saxophone on that recording
entranced him and led his grandfather to present him
buy him a saxophone; his first musical instrument.
The next few years were marked by
musical curiosity and experimentation. After trading
in the sax for a drum set, and joining a high school
rock band, Benavides enrolled in the Ars Nova
Music School at 16 years-of-age. At the school,
he set aside the drums and delved into piano
studies, music theory, harmony, and ear training.
While playing keyboards in a rock
band, fate brought him and the bass together. The
band’s bass player quit, and Benavides decided to
take his spot. He proceeded to buy his first bass -
and never looked back. Soon after, Benavides formed
his first band as a bass player. Named Zig Zag,
the band was a rock power trio that played clubs and
private events throughout Caracas.
During these formative years of his
bass playing, Benavides was strongly influenced by
The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, Pat
Matheney, Chick Corea, Ruben Blades, and Puerto
Rican salseros Willie Colon and La Sonora Ponceña.
With so much music to listen to, his passion began
paying off in gigs.
He played gigs with Séptima Raza, a
salsa and merengue cover band, and Séptimo Capítulo,
a band with original music fusing genres that ranged
from rock, salsa, and ska, to reggae, jazz, and
Venezuelan folk music. With Séptima Raza, Benavides
had the chance to branch out from Caracas and tour
parts of the Caribbean circuit, such as Trinidad y
Tobago and Margarita Island. This experience opened
his mind and musical knowledge.
In 1995, Benavides received the "Best
Entering Scholarship" award from the Berklee College
of Music. He packed his bags and his instrument, and
moved to Boston, Massachusetts, in January 1996.
Four years later, he emerged from
Berklee with newfound influences ranging from Cuban
timba bands such as NG LA Banda, Los Van Van, and
Charanga Habanera, to funk legends Earth Wind and
Fire, Brothers Johnson, and Parliament Funkadelic,
and jazz virtuosos Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.
Almost immediately, his career began to thrive.
Benavides gigged with numerous bands
that played a variety of genres, including: Solstice
Bells (original rock ‘n roll); Team Malin (original
salsa); La Timba Loca (original timba), founded and
directed by Grammy nominee Gonzalo Grau; Gonzalo
Grau Quintet (original Venezuelan folk/jazz fusion);
Bandón 33 (Latin jazz); and Cyan Tinted Soul (funk
rock). Parallel to playing with these different
bands, he had a steady gig at Sophia’s, a hot
nightspot in Boston, and toured the United States
and Europe with The Latin Party Boys salsa band.
On January 1, 2004, Benavides' dream
of moving to New York City became a reality.He
quickly made his way into the music scene,
connecting and playing with several Cuban bands,
including: the Enrique Lopez Quartet, NuGuajiro, and
José Conde. He also landed gigs with original
projects such as Positive Catastrophe, a free jazz
big band playing in New York and touring Europe; and
Zemog, a Latin alternative band that gigs in and
around New York and played at the world-renowned
Montreal Jazz Festival in 2009. He also formed the
Venezuelan fusion trio Los Crema Paraiso together
with Si*Se percussionist Neil Ochoa and guitar
player José Luis Pardo, a Grammy-winning leader of
Los Amigos Invisibles.
2009 found Benavides playing with
many of these groups at New York City hotspots SOBs,
Joe’s Pub, Nublu, The Blue Note, and Central Park
Summer Stage. He also spent time touring England
with Grammy winning vocalist Willy Torres and his
Magic of Salsa Kingdom musical theater
This was also the year that he became
the official bass player for the Pedrito Martinez
Group, marking a major turning point in his career.
Benavides first met Martinez in 2006
when he was called to sub for the bass player at
Guantanamera Restaurant. Martinez loved Benavides’
groove and Benavides was inspired by Martinez's
talent and musicianship. With every gig, their
musical connection has grown stronger.
The quartet is now a tight and
connected ensemble, completed by Axel Tosca and Ariacne Truillo
switching off on keyboard and Jhair Sala on
percussion. The group has garnered acclaim by highly
respected musicians, including: Steve Gadd, Eric
Clapton, Roger Waters, Will Lee, Ravi Coltrane, Taj
Mahal, and John Scolfield, among others.
The buzz surrounding the Pedrito
Martinez Group, as well as the steadily increasing
fan base, has lead to the band’s upcoming and highly
anticipated live and studio albums.
Alvaro Benavides endorses and uses