Biography

Bennett Roth Newell
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about Bennett

Bennett Roth-Newell is a pianist/keyboardist, composer/arranger, emcee, producer, and multi-genre music educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bennett began piano lessons when he was 7 years old and by age 10 became fascinated with the music of jazz. After playing mostly classical music during his first few years of studying piano, Bennett set off on a path of learning jazz standards and immersed himself in the music of the jazz giants—especially of legendary jazz pianists Dave Brubeck, Thelonious Monk, and Bill Evans—while practicing determinedly to develop his sound on the piano as an improviser. His musical interests expanded to hip-hop music as a teenager and soon he was writing lyrics, doing freestyle rap, and producing original instrumental tracks. Bennett independently released his debut hip-hop album “The Unexpected” in January 2005 and began performing as a hip-hop artist around various regions of the Bay Area. He continued simultaneously to hone his skills as a jazz pianist and eventually landed a scholarship to study jazz at Sonoma State University after graduating high school. While at Sonoma State University, Bennett studied jazz composition, jazz theory, and jazz improvisation with the late acclaimed bassist Mel Graves. He studied jazz piano with John Simon and jazz arranging with trombonist/composer Doug Leibinger. He completed his undergraduate education as Distinguished Graduate in Jazz Studies. Bennett ventured to San Jose State University directly after and completed a master’s degree in jazz studies while studying jazz composition and arranging with saxophonist/composer Aaron Lington and jazz piano with the late esteemed pianist Frank Sumares.

Bennett has made a career as a performer in several genres as either a pianist/keyboardist, hip-hop artist, or both in combination. He has also been an avid music educator. Some of his career highlights and current endeavors include:

  • Appearances at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, Yoshi’s SF, Shoreline Ampitheatre, KCSM Presents Jazz On The Hill, Healdsburg Jazz Festival, Sunnyvale Jazz and Beyond Series, San Jose Jazz Winter Fest, Silicon Valley Sound Experience, Reggae By The Lights in Las Vegas, National Black Theatre Festival in North Carolina, Hip-Hop Congress National Conference in Colorado, Crocker Art Museum Summer Concert Series in Sacramento, and countless other venues, festivals, and events
  • Contributing to numerous albums as a composer and primary artist, sideman, writer, and producer and appearing on releases with The Bad Ones, Mason Razavi, Amy Dabalos, Maya Victoria, Tracy Cruz, Soulful Obsession, The JurassiC, James Tha Spitta, B-Jada, and many more bands and artists
  • Serving as Creative Arts Director at The Riekes Center for Human Enhancement in Menlo Park, CA, where he teaches piano, drums, composition, hip-hop songwriting, and electronic music production, as well as organizes and coordinates an annual international performance tour in Barcelona, Spain for the organization’s student and staff band The Riekestra
  • Through the partnering of The Riekes Center for Human Enhancement with Cal Hi-Sports Bay Area (KOFY 20/Cable 13), creating instrumental music and vocal performances that have been featured on the television program’s Players of the Week segment, musically and lyrically narrating sports highlights of high school athletes
  • Performing alongside some of jazz’s top-flight musicians including Matt Wilson, John Handy, Aaron Lington, Wally Schnalle, Carl Allen, Marc Sherman, Steffen Kuehn, John Worley, John Shifflett, Jason Lewis, Tony Lindsay, Mike Williams, Jamie Davis, Idris Ackamoor, and more
  • Opening for an array headlining acts including Glen Washington, Irie Love, Chrisette Michelle, Joanna Borromeo, Kero One, Anya, Rome Neal, and more
  • Teaching music at a variety of institutions at the high school and college level such as Valley Christian High School, San Jose State University, Cogswell Polytechnical College, and West Valley Community College

these are my keys to life

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