Benny Jacobs-El, born in Brooklyn, New York, was fascinated by music from an early age. Inspired by Louis Armstrong’s music- personality and the music of the ‘Be-Bop’ era, he began his musical education as a trombone player and attended the High School for the Performing Arts (known as “Fame” school to media fans) in New York. After graduation, he attended the Julliard School of Music where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in trombone. During this time he played in several bands including the New Youth Band, New York Jazz Septet, Slide Hampton Octet and the Lloyd Prince Orchestra.
From 1964-66 Benny played trombone with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and various Latin bands in New York City. To provide for his growing family of 10 kids, Benny and his fantastic wife relocated to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands in 1974, where he taught music in the public schools for 30 years: 21 year in elementary school- 9 years in high school.
He began focusing on the piano when he went to St. Croix, using the keyboard as a teaching tool and to accompany the elementary school students singing. After several years in St. Croix, he began to work at a number of Jazz groups. “My greatest musical opportunity was when I became the piano player for the Jimmy Hamilton Quartet. Jimmy was a great clarinetist and saxophone player who retired from the Duke Ellington Orchestra after a stint of 26 years, and he settled in St. Croix and began teaching school band. I worked in Jimmy’s quartet for the last 9 years of his live. I move with my family from St. Croix to Huntsville, AL and was blessed to meet Mr. Devere Pride, and here we are.”