I had the privilege of hearing
35-time award-winning saxophonist & 4-time Leo-Nominated Film Composer Eli Bennett
perform twice now at events run by Warren Dean Flandez of Studio Cloud 30. The first was in 2014 at the studio’s Christmas concert. The second at their 2015 Red Carpet Series showcase. Both times Bennett shared the stage with talented violinist Rosemary Siemens.

After this second performance, my instincts were buzzing. It was time to connect one-on-one. Bennett is only 26 and honestly, I usually don’t do full interviews with anyone this young. I tend to look for those with more life experience under their belt. However,
this talented musician’s resume already includes 13 years of performing professionally
. His father is also a musician, and that opened doors for him very early that other musicians could only dream of. He also credits his father for guiding him through the twists and turns of working in the music industry.

13 years later, Bennett has earned a BA from prestigious Humber College.
He has received numerous awards
; shared the stage with the likes of Oscar Peterson, Hank Jones, Barry Harris, Terence Blanchard, and Dave Holland; recorded his debut album; completed a cross-Canada tour; and has a European tour coming up in 2016. Want to know more? So did I.



8Q Spotlight Eli Bennett

What is your current career(s) – paid and unpaid?

As an award-winning jazz saxophonist and film composer based out of Vancouver, I’ve had the fortune of performing twice at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, performing with music’s biggest names including Oscar Peterson and the Neville Brothers, touring across Canada in support of my debut jazz album Breakthrough, which hit Top Ten on the Canadian and U.S. jazz charts this year, was featured on iTunes Canada Jazz as one of Canada’s top jazz albums, and also received a Western Canadian Music Award nomination for “Jazz Album of the Year”.

Can you share an interesting thing (or two) about your journey to reach this moment?

I grew up in a musical family as the son of Canadian film composer and drummer Daryl Bennett (Powder Blues). Literally from day one I grew up in my dad’s scoring studio listening to him compose film music. He formally introduced me to music at age twelve and I began joining him on gigs when I was around fourteen in blues clubs such as the Yale Hotel on Granville Street. Being surrounded by music for an entire decade prior to being formally introduced to it subconsciously prepared me to be an artist, as I unknowingly soaked up years of musical inspiration and insight for a future career as a musician.

What 3 things would you like people to know about you to give them a sense of who you really are?

  1. Born and raised in Vancouver.
  2. Love music.
  3. Love traveling. Combining the two is even better.

Highest moment so far?

Performing last July at the Montreal Jazz Festival main stage prime time for over ten thousand people with my own band (jazz quartet) in support of my WCMA-nominated album Breakthrough on our Breakthrough 2015 Canadian Tour.

When I’m not on the road touring with my own band or as a sideman for other groups, I’m at my scoring studio composing music for film and TV. I’m currently finishing the score for a U.S. documentary film entitled “Believe: The True Story of Real Bearded Santas”, The score recently won a SOCAN Foundation award for “Best Non-Fiction Score”, and the film is slated for a U.S. release in 2016. I’m just about to start composing the score for a Vancouver-filmed feature called “The Perfect Pickup”, directed by Chad Rook and slated for international release in 2016.

Who and/or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by music. Specifically, I love how film music is tied to story and emotion. As a film composer it’s exhilarating to bring people and their stories to life through music on the big (and little) screen.

How do you personally define success?

Success for me personally is achieving my goals while staying true to my core beliefs and personal values.

Advice for someone wanting to embrace this career?

Dream big, set goals, work hard, stay focused, and find mentors to guide you. I believe that you can do anything you set your mind to.