John Bennett - Piano
One of Wallace, Idaho's famous sons, John grew up in La Grande and Portland, Oregon, where he helped pay his Lewis and Clark College tuition by playing in a burlesque theater. (He claims to be the only pit piano player who never looked up from the keyboard.) He has taught public and private school music in The Dalles, Warm Springs, and Portland and keeps active in the live music scene with band and solo work. John joined Black Swan in 1991 and has been pleasing audiences ever since.
A few years ago, John realized his interest in early 20th-century American music by forming The Swipesy Cakewalk Ragtime Band, a group performing at numerous summer outdoor sites, and The Dill Pickles, a trio participating in the Young Audiences program in Portland grade schools. Based on a library of piano scores, John has arranged original works by Scott Joplin, James P. Scott, "Jelly Roll" Morton and others, offering Black Swan Classic Jazz Band audiences an overview of this unique era in American history.
Paralleling John's career in music is his involvement in Russian. A student of the language since high school, John earned a master of arts in teaching from the University of Northern Colorado/Greeley and a master's in linguistics from Indiana University and has done postgraduate studies at the University of Washington. In addition to teaching music grades K-12, he has instructed students in Russian at the high school and university levels. John has visited the former Soviet Union and Russia four times as a tourist and interpreter, most recently in 1994 as a volunteer in the governor's office in the oblast of Nizhny Novgorod. He maintains his expertise by interpreting for the expanding Pacific Northwest Russian immigrant community. John's interpretation of a nostalgic World War II Russian song, "Dark is the Night," is included in one of the Black Swan's recordings.
Still Keeping the Audience Swinging is an article released in the Portland Tribune on March 17, 2016 which recognizes the outstanding fundraising work John and others do each month at the Shriner's in Wilsonville.
John Bennett's Black Swan Discography includes:
- Hoagy, Heart & Soul
- Dance Hall Favorites
- Feel the Spirit
- This Joint is Jumpin'
- Ragtime Revelry (featuring John Bennett)
- A Joyful Noise
- Cookin' With Fats - Live at the Old Church
- How You Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm?
- Mama's Gone Goodbye
- Spreadin' Rhythm Around
- Sweet Lotus Blossom