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Jazz - Released October 2, 2020 | Steinway and Sons

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Jazz - Released August 23, 2019 | Shanachie

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Jazz - Released July 21, 2017 | Shanachie

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1995 | GRP

During his years with the GRP label, pianist David Benoit became very popular among listeners who enjoy hearing melodic jazz-influenced pop instrumentals that groove in a generally quiet manner. This sampler has 14 selections including two previously unreleased numbers and tunes taken from ten of Benoit's earlier releases. Unfortunately the exact personnel is only given for the new tracks (a rather inexcusable omission). The music overall (which includes a couple of straight-ahead performances recorded for tributes to Bill Evans and Vince Guaraldi) is lightly funky and enjoyable if somewhat lightweight. Highlights include "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," "Linus and Lucy," "Freedom at Midnight," "Letter to Evan," and "Urban Daydreams." © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 15, 2015 | Concord Records

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On his 35th album as a leader, pianist and composer David Benoit changed up his game. Remarkably, 2 in Love is the very first time in his long career that he's worked with a vocalist on an entire album. His chosen collaborator is Jane Monheit, one of the most celebrated mainstream jazz singers. All but one of these ten songs are originals co-written with three different lyricists: Lorraine Feather, Mark Winkler, and Spencer Day. Produced by the pianist, 2 in Love was cut live in the studio -- a daunting prospect for most contemporary vocalists. But Monheit is no ordinary singer. Check her delivery on the knotty, Latin-tinged opener "Barcelona Nights." She glides through the changes and imbues her canny phrasing with just a hint of samba, with each articulated syllable entrenched in the song's groove. The sultry passion in her utterance is complemented beautifully by Pat Kelly's nylon-string guitar in the bridge. The title track is a swinging bossa with charging piano and hand percussion. Monheit has demonstrated throughout her career that her grasp on the form is both expert and soulful. On "Dragonfly," a lithe country-esque waltz, she pulls back, but just enough to let the addition of a violin and cello color the parlor room feel of Benoit's melody. "Fly Away" is beautifully realized cinematic pop, while "Love Will Light a Way" and "Something's Gotta Give" offer distinct sides of popular music's theatrical side. There are two instrumentals on the set as well. "Love in Hyde Park" is a stripped-down yet elegant -- and ultimately preferable -- version of "A Moment in Hyde Park," which first appeared on Love Is Like a Samba (where the pianist was accompanied by an orchestra). This version, arranged for quartet, features flutist Tim Weisberg, who adds an exotic, breezy texture atop Benoit's shimmering pianism. The closer is a solo piano medley of Leonard Bernstein's "Love Theme from Candide" and Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns," affectionately rendered with grace and care. On 2 in Love, Benoit couldn't have chosen a more desirable collaborator than Monheit. Her openness to the range of material he offers in beautifully crafted songs is matched only by her command of their languages. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2008 | Peak Records

Contemporary jazz pianist and composer David Benoit has chosen to forgo many of the tropes and methods of working he's employed for the past 30 years on Heroes. Simply put, this is a tribute record to a select group of musicians who have inspired him and shown him a way forward. Before getting to the music, it's worth noting that in his brief liner essay, Benoit spells out that this is by no means a complete list, and points to those he left off for justifiable reasons, which is a nice touch. The music he has chosen stays well within the parameters of contemporary jazz, but lends a deeper focus to Benoit's approach in general. How many recordings are there where you will see tunes by the Doors placed next to those by Clifton Davis, Horace Silver, Dave Brubeck, Dave Grusin, pianist Bill Evans, the Beatles, and the teams of John Bettis and Steve Porcaro, as well as Elton John and Bernie Taupin? Benoit offers a single sentence of explication as to why he chose certain cuts here, and all of them ring true -- especially once he plays them. The band is stripped down a bit here. Benoit plays piano and synth, David Hughes plays acoustic and electric bass, Jamey Tate plays drums, and Brad Dutz lends an additional hand on percussion. Andy Suzuki contributes his alto and tenor saxophones in a couple of places and, for the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home," members of the Asia America Symphony's string section help out. The basic trio/quartet size works wonderfully for most of these tunes, and Benoit isn't looking to displace his audience here. The recording opens with the pop-jazz area of Grusin's musical background with the wonderfully articulate "Mountain Dance," followed by the Bettis-Porcaro classic "Human Nature": tracks that exemplify the contemporary jazz genre. The former is played straight on an acoustic piano, and the latter is on piano and synth. They are effective, emotional, and deeply resonant readings of these tunes. From here he delves into the popular vernacular. Elton John's "Your Song" swings a bit but doesn't quite make the transition from pop to jazz. The arrangement feels a little stilted, but it's enjoyable. "Light My Fire" does make the transition, and in spades. The understated, nuanced attention Benoit pays to the melody; his left hand adding a shimmering Latin rhythm, underscored with authority by Dutz's hand percussion, adds depth and presence. It's also hip that Benoit quotes from other Doors' tunes in the solo. It's hard to mess up a tune like "Never Can Say Goodbye," and the lithe, elegant pianism Benoit displays retains the soul and the romance while allowing a graceful and shadowy harmonic palette that brings the softer notions in the lyric line out. Here again, hand drums add some weight to the bottom and keep a light funky edge. "She's Leaving Home," is certainly lush, but it too suffers a bit from an overly taut arrangement. The last five tunes -- including one original -- are from the jazz book, beginning with the standard "Song for My Father." Benoit claims this was the first jazz tune he ever learned by ear. It's played funky and tight, and its groove is in the pocket. The crystalline piano is a bit jarring, but the execution and feel are flawless. The standard "You Looks So Good to Me" is included as a tribute to Oscar Peterson. It holds little of his fire, and feels like an elegy, but it's an interesting reading and swings once it gets going. The longest tune here is Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debbie." Benoit is well-suited to the knotty melodic elements in Evans' composing style, but doesn't make the same harmonic reaches. Instead, he chooses an almost classical approach in the intro to the tune, but somehow it works beautifully, so when it breaks into the main body, Benoit's got his groove and it pops. "A Twisted Little Etude" was self-penned as a tribute to Brubeck, though it uses the gnarly chord voicings and dense harmonics of the object as a way of saying "thanks." The final cut is, of course, "Blue Rondo à la Turk," by Brubeck. It's very fast, and Suzuki's edgy alto feels out of place -- not because he doesn't have the blues down, but because his sound is too raw to suit the arrangement properly -- especially when recalls Paul Desmond's dry, warm playing on the original. These are small complaints, however, and Benoit has made a record that is close to his heart and is a welcome addition to his catalog: it's a musically sophisticated offering that is a real pleasure to listen to. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Classical - Released May 19, 2017 | Steinway and Sons

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1987 | GRP

Pianist David Benoit's debut for GRP was a big seller and set the tone for the next decade of his career. In general, Benoit's piano is heard in the forefront, joined by oversized rhythm sections (including the Rippingtons' Russ Freeman) and a string section. A strictly boppish quartet rendition of "Del Sasser" with altoist Sam Riney is a nice change of pace, but otherwise, the music is melodic, lightweight, and better for backgrounds than for close listening. Overall, this program is pleasant and not at all objectionable, but difficult to remember once the CD is finished. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Peak Records

Creatively, David Benoit has had his ups and downs over the years. The pianist/keyboardist has recorded more than his share of forgettable smooth jazz albums, but he has also provided some decent straight-ahead discs that were greatly influenced by Bill Evans (the pianist, not the saxophonist). This 2004 release, however, doesn't fall into either category -- Benoit/Freeman Project 2, a collaboration with guitarist Russ Freeman, isn't straight-ahead acoustic jazz, but it isn't an album of mindless "elevator Muzak" either. For the most part, this CD could be described as "smooth jazz with a brain"; pop considerations are a high priority, but at the same time, jazz considerations (spontaneity and improvisation) are not ignored. Benoit/Freeman Project 2 tends to be meatier and more substantial than most of the smooth jazz/NAC releases that Benoit has been a part of, and one of the things that this album has going for it is a more organic production style. Benoit and Freeman, who produced the CD together, don't suffocate their material with excessive production -- this time, they're smart enough to let it breathe, and meaningful solos are encouraged rather than discouraged. Most of the tracks are instrumental; one of the exceptions is "Two Survivors," a likable adult contemporary tune that features singer Vince Gill. The country-pop star might seem an unlikely choice for a Benoit/Freeman encounter, but then, Gill was never a hardcore honky tonker à la Buck Owens, Johnny Cash or Lefty Frizzell -- Gill has often laced his country with big doses of pop, and he's quite appropriate for an AC tune like "Two Survivors." This album has a few throwaway tracks, but they're the exception instead of the rule -- and overall, Benoit/Freeman Project 2 is a cut above most of Benoit's other smooth jazz/NAC outings. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | GRP

Should there be any doubt as to why over the course of a few short years in the mid- to late '80s David Benoit shot from relative obscurity to certifiable contemporary jazz superstardom, this diverse outing will quickly put it to rest. With Benoit's assistance, producer Don Grusin perfectly layers the many adventurous synthesizer riffs and lush orchestration here with Benoit's elegant acoustic piano. Grusin penned the most exciting track (if not one of the best cuts of Benoit's early career), the funky and melodic "Sailing Through the City," which features the high flying sax work of Eric Marienthal. Benoit either wrote or co-wrote the other eight tunes, ranging from the introspective "Looking Back" to the playful "Snow Dancing," but he really strikes pay-dirt on the title track, which has that unmistakable Benoit trademark, a mellow beginning and a rousingly upbeat finish. Also a lot of fun is the perky, spirited "Wild Kids," which he wrote with Grusin for a Charlie Brown TV special. With each new album, Benoit began taking new and inspired chances in the format's early days. On his previous album Every Step of the Way, it was the classically tinged "Rebach" and here it's "Sailing..." Fortunately, he knows just how to please, and so sticks for the most part to the magic touch he has displayed so formidably on the acoustic piano. When you hear a Benoit tune, you can instantly identify it. Such definition characterized his even greater output of the '90s. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | GRP

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | GRP

An album of Peanuts-related music performed by David Benoit is a no-brainer, not only because of the retirement and death of Charles Schultz, who drew the comic strip, but also because Benoit has in recent years taken over writing the music for the ongoing series of shows, which were scored originally by Vince Guaraldi. Benoit emphasizes his predecessor by devoting seven of the album's ten tracks to Guaraldi compositions. Unfortunately, he begins with one of those exercises in necrophilia that is usually the province of the less-talented progeny of great singers, overdubbing a few of his own unnecessary noodlings on the original recording of "Linus and Lucy." Fortunately, things improve after that, as the trio of Benoit, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Peter Erskine is joined by a series of high-profile guest musicians: guitarist Marc Antoine on "Pebble Beach" and "Red Baron"; trumpeter Chris Botti on Benoit's "Linus Tells Charlie"; saxophonist Michael Brecker on "Freda"; and guitarist Russell Malone on "Blue Charlie Brown." Despite the spring release date, the inclusion of the near-standard "Christmas Time Is Here" is inevitable, and here it's sung by Take 6. In an inspired move, the album closes with Al Jarreau's winsome take on "Happiness," a song from the stage musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. All in all, this is a pleasant, if minor, addition to Benoit's catalog. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | GRP

Unlike most genre superstars, David Benoit never seems content to stick strictly with any pop formula for very long. While his hummable ivory spirit always shines through, his many attempts to shake and stir the typical expectations make him perhaps the most artistic pop jazz artist around. Shaken Not Stirred is thus an appropriate moniker for this wildly eclectic collection, which makes overwhelmingly effective use of orchestral grandeur (the enrapturing "Carmel"), and comes across more as a smashing musician's playground than a lightweight, radio friendly stab. he treads just enough familiar territory to keep old fans pleased but enjoys experimenting with percussive explosions, wild jamming, and traditional smoky club blues. The genuine simple warmth of the acoustic tribute "Jacqueline" (Jackie Kennedy Onassis died the year this was released) reminds us, however, that behind the crazy, genre-busting navigations is a gentle man full of grace. Hopefully the mixed bag of vocals -- a solid effort by David Pack undercut by a meandering schmaltzer by Kenny Rankin -- won't detract from the wide-ranging and powerful instrumental tracks. The only voice Benoit needs is in his fingers. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1990 | GRP

The pianist's fifth release for GRP was not only his most mature and sophisticated pop-jazz outing to date, but also one of the year's most enjoyable genre releases. Providing the usual Benoit trademark blend of frisky, angst-free melodic stylings with introspective ballads and knockout vocals (two tunes feature David Pack) and following up the success of their "The Key to You" collaboration in 1988, this stellar collection helped solidify Benoit's hold on the musical form that tunes like "Kei's Song" and "Every Step of the Way" helped popularize. The tender and passionate, finely orchestrated "A Last Request" and "6 string Poet" (the latter dedicated to the late guitarist Emily Remler, who played on Benoit's Waiting For Spring) are perhaps more artsy, but once again, it's the excitement of selections like the Western tinged "Houston" and "South East Quarter" which propels this collection. The hip-hop grooves offered on "MWA (Musicians With Attitude)" offer a pleasant and unexpected diversion as well. With Benoit, melody is king, and once again, almost every tune is instantly hummable. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | GRP

A true elder statesman of contemporary jazz (whose seminal mid-'80s recordings helped pave the way for the smooth jazz genre), pianist David Benoit stayed relevant, fresh, and funky due to three factors -- brilliant melodies, stylistic diversity from track to track, and working with hip, edgy producers. Rick Braun co-produced two of Benoit's recent, similarly brilliant offerings, Professional Dreamer (1999) and Fuzzy Logic (2001), and on Right Here, Right Now assumes the helm fully, guiding Benoit through a wide terrain of musical territory, sometimes adding his own trumpet expertise. There's the ongoing fun of funk/soul triumphs like "Watermelon Man" (Herbie Hancock's classic fashioned with the old-school bounce of another Benoit influence, Ramsey Lewis), the retro-minded title track, and the brassy jam "Jellybeans and Chocolate" (featuring Brian Culbertson and Euge Groove). Benoit's more thoughtful side emerges on the film score-like "Le Grand," an unofficial tribute to the style of Michel Legrand featuring a dense percussion atmosphere, and the understated, melancholy "Quiet Room," a tribute to Benoit's late father (featuring Braun and guitarist Pat Kelley) and something of a sequel to his Grammy-nominated piece "Dad's Room." Benoit's other stops include hitching posts in "Swingin' Waikiki" (ah, the joy of bossa, featuring saxman Andy Suzuki) and a mystical, bass-throbbing "Third Encounter." Aside from his occasional Vince Guaraldi reduxes, Benoit with a few exceptions never much relied on cover tunes, but here includes two besides the Hancock tune -- a dreamy "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" with Peter White and an orchestra, and a sparse easy listening cover of "Don't Know Why." Years passed, smooth jazz radio kept playing his oldies, yet his new stuff kept getting better and better. © Jonathan Widran /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 15, 2014 | Kind of Blue Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1989 | GRP

After making so many forgettable albums with commercial radio in mind, David Benoit took a break from the type of smooth jazz fluff he usually records and delivered a respectable, straight-ahead CD with Waiting for Spring. Instead of shamelessly wasting his improvisatory skills, he actually lets loose on the acoustic piano and makes some meaningful statements. Bill Evans is obviously a great influence on Benoit, whose vulnerability makes his love of the late piano legend obvious on originals as well as lyrical interpretations of standards like "My Romance" and "Secret Love." Benoit has a fine soloist in the late guitarist Emily Remler, who is consistently warm, melodic, and inviting. Though the album isn't breathtaking, it's satisfying and heartfelt. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | GRP

Pianist David Benoit once again delivers a consummate jazz-pop release produced by trumpeter Rick Braun. Braun, who played on Benoit's 1999 Professional Dreamer, does a nice job of updating the piano man's trademark keyboard sound by addressing hip-hop and Latin rhythms. Despite the requisite candlelight noodlings and semi-funk party tracks that Benoit has admittedly popularized, there is much to appreciate here. With its ersatz harpsichord intro, the original "You Read My Mind" is reminiscent of early Bob James, and is a welcome breather from the usual bland jams. Similarly, an irony-free cover of Smashmouth's "Then the Morning Comes" brilliantly recalls the best of Burt Bacharach's '60s output. Fuzzy Math is perfect music for a romantic dinner or shopping a bridal registry at the mall. Either way, Benoit fans will no doubt be pleased. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 26, 2012 | Heads Up

Leaving behind the downtempo electronic approach of 2010's Earthglow, pianist David Benoit returns to a more traditional contemporary jazz vibe on 2012's Conversation. Once again working with producer Clark Germain, Benoit has put together a more organic, swinging sound this time around. To these ends, we get the R&B-infused Latin number "Feelin' It" as well as Benoit's take on the Vince Guaraldi-sounding theme to the film Diary of a Wimpy Kid featuring guitarist Jeff Golub. Similarly engaging are such cuts as the roiling spy-movie funk of "Q's Motif" and the jazz-funk of "Let's Get Ready" with saxophonist David Sills. One of the main draws here, of course, is the title track composition that Benoit culled from the last movement of his suite "Music for Two Trios." The track showcases a classical trio featuring pianist Robert Theis and a jazz organ trio led by Benoit trading sections and going head to head on this cinematic and rambling "conversation" piece. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | GRP