Ben Cruz is a guitarist, composer, and educator based in Chicago, IL. His music draws from a variety of traditions, combining forward-thinking composition with an emphasis on improvisation. Ben began playing guitar at the age of twelve, and studied jazz and improvisation from New York City-based guitarist Vic Juris. Ben went on study history and jazz performance at Oberlin College and Conservatory, where he was mentored by Bobby Ferrazza, Dan Wall, Jamey Haddad, Jay Ashby, Paul Samuels, and Brian Alegant.
Ben has performed with Gerald Clayton, Billy Drewes, Phil Markowitz, Billy Childs, Vijay Iyer, Anat Cohen, Dominick Farinacci, Jason Stein, and Petros Klampanis, among others. His experiences working with esteemed musicians from many different traditions have made him a collaborative, versatile musician who nonetheless maintains a distinct musical voice.
Ben teaches private guitar lessons in the Chicago area through the Henderson Academy of Music and Forevermore Dance and Theatre Arts. He also teaches online lessons through Virtu Academy via an innovative platform started by his colleagues from Oberlin in 2017. In July 2018, Ben taught classes, coached ensembles, and gave private lessons for two weeks at the Stanford Jazz Workshop in Stanford, CA through the Stanford Jazz Mentor Fellowship program.