A Wilmington native, for the past twenty years, Benny Hill has performed in a diverse set of musical groups and engagements, ranging from orchestra pits to cruise ships to featured artist and soloist at numerous venues across the country and abroad. Benny is well versed in the many styles and genres of popular and classical music and specializes in jazz performance. He is steeped in the tradition of many of the past greats including Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley, Jackie McLean, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker. His improvisations are reminiscent of these greats, yet he has a distinct style and voice of his own. Benny is a true crowd-pleaser and never fails to raise excitement and enthusiasm while on stage.
Benny has shared the stage with such notable jazz musicians as Trumpeter Ray Codrington, Guitarist Melvin Sparks, Trombonist and Arranger Slide Hampton, bassist Percy Heath, drummer Winard Harper, Saxophonist Ron Blake, Trumpeter Eddie Henderson, Saxophonist Wessell Anderson, Drummer Joe Chambers, and New Orleans’ Dirty Dozen Brass Band. He has also opened for roots rocker Edwin McCain and RatDog, with legendary Guitarist/Vocalist Bob Weir and Bassist Rob Wasserman and performed with James Browns’ “Soul Generals”.
This original edition of The Benny Hill Quartet featuring Pianist Brad Merritt, Bassist Doug Irving, and Drummer Israel Bannerman has performed at regular intervals over the past eighteen years. The quartet plays with a controlled intensity that brings life to the music as well as stimulates audiences. While studying at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington it became apparent that they shared a kindred philosophy that swing is paramount. The quartet can be heard on the self-titled CD recorded in 1998. The group is currently working on a new recording to be released in the fall of 2014.