Adam Benjamin is a Grammy-nominated and critically acclaimed pianist, keyboardist, composer and educator based in Reno, NV. Recognized as a “Rising Star in Jazz” in DownBeat magazine’s critic’s and reader’s polls for eight years running, his unmistakable sound crosses stylistic boundaries and challenges traditional notions of jazz. Adam maintains a humble and humorous approach that connects him with his audiences worldwide.
Adam is a founding member of Kneebody, an electric quintet widely recognized as one of the most unique ensembles in jazz today. Together for over fourteen years, they have released five studio albums, four live albums, and have toured extensively throughout the USA, Europe, Japan and Australia. Their current release is "Anti-Hero" on Motema Music, a series of new instrumental compositions exploring themes of loss and redemption, and addressing the charged political atmosphere of Trump-era America. This follows their 2016 release "Kneedelus", on Brainfeeder Records, an imaginative, boundary-breaking collaboration with electronic artist Daedelus.
Previous recordings from the “spontaneous and exciting” (DownBeat) “freakishly talented quintet” (All About Jazz) included the 2009 Grammy-nominated release, 12 Songs of Charles Ives, a radical reinvention of the songs of Charles Ives in collaboration with singer Theo Bleckmann (Winter and Winter, 2009).
Equally devoted to his work as an educator, Adam is Assistant Professor and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he focuses on helping students become healthy and creative musicians and people. He was previously a Professor of Practice in Jazz Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans, and an Adjunct Professor of Jazz at his alma mater, California Institute of the Arts. He gives clinics and workshops at schools around the world, including the Royal Conservatory of Music in London, the Sydney Conservatory in Sydney, Australia, the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, New York), and Stanford University (Palo Alto, California).
Adam continues to perform and record original music and inventive interpretations of classic folk and jazz music with his introspective piano + guitar Americana project Red Oak Duo (their 2017 release "Seven American Monuments" releases in September on Orenda Records), and a piano + drums duo project, Go Shlomo! (f.boo Music, 2014) which combines comedic Jewish influences with avant-garde jazz in a humorous and surprising blend. Adam’s solo piano albums include "Alphabets and Consequences" (f.Boo Records, 2010), a unique series of improvised miniatures that transform familiar jazz and folk melodies into quirky impressionist etudes bursting with both humor and gravity. This follows Long Gone (Kind of Blue, 2008) and his notorious 2007 self-release "It’s a Standard, Standard, Standard, Standard World", which captures 37 jazz standards through the lens of Garageband 1.0 technology. Dave Douglas noted this unprecedented work as a “majestic tour de force” and Ralph Alessi called it “the perfect blend of enjoyable music and side-splitting laughter.”
He has toured and recorded extensively with Dave Douglas from 2005-2011, including world tours debuting Spark of Being, a collaborative work with filmmaker Bill Morrison. Adam’s contribution is central to the Dave Douglas & Keystone albums "Live in Sweden" (Greenleaf, 2006) and "Moonshine" (Greenleaf, 2008). He toured and recorded with Donny McCaslin as part of his "Perpetual Motion" band from 2010-2013. Adam has also collaborated with artists as varied as Jimmy Chamberlin Complex, So Percussion, Joshua Redman, and Beck, and has contributed to many film scores, including co-writing the score to John Krasinski’s 2009 adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews With Hideous Men. He has performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the North Sea Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, and Monterey Jazz Festival.