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David Benoit & Friends

American born pianist, David Benoit, is celebrating his 43rd year of releasing contemporary jazz albums.

Quite an accomplishment, despite the ups and downs of the music industry over the years! David Benoit and Friends'​ blend of originals, covers and tributes makes for a very enjoyable listen.  For his 36th solo album, David Benoit has rallied great friends like guitarist, Peter White, singer Lindsey Webster and Dave Koz, whose talent shimmers on the track, ‘Vernazza' - named after a small fishing village in Northern Italy.  This  gorgeous arrangement where these two heavy hitters show off their talent becomes a timely tribute to the wonderful people of Italy.  Guitarist Marc Antoine guests on 'Moon And Sand' - a classic standard made famous by Kenny Burrell.   Marc’s complex style and the swaying groove of Benoit's stimulating band make this a worthy version, honouring the famous Guitar Forms album by Burrell and Gil Evans.  Next up is 'Sly Fox', a bouncy funk with the honourable doctor of smooth funk - keyboardist, Jeff Lorber - groovy and tasty with some Hammond organ provided by Benoit himself.  Good buddy, trumpeter Rick Braun, was brought in for a version of Irving Berlin’s 'How Deep Is The Ocean' - a Benoit favourite.  As David put it in a recent interview,  It gets a sexy reach with the Harmon mute” by Braun, the same wah-wah mute Miles Davis would use on his trumpets.  'Dave G', a tribute to legendary pianist, composer and arranger, Dave Grusin, is an uplifting track with hip saxophone from Vincent Ingala.  On 'Siena Step' Benoit goes all out with another tribute to Italy - this time to the Tuscan city of Siena,  featuring a retro bossa jam with drummer, JR Robinson (Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson) and percussionist, Luis Conte.  For a twist, Benoit and Friends includes a fresh and upbeat  cover of Portugal - The Man’s 2017 hit,  'Feel It Still' and this tribute to the original definitely works!  Benoit even goes back to his debut AVI label 1977 album, Heavier Than Yesterday for a revisited version of '96-132'. The title refers to the two contrasting metronome settings - 96 for slow and 132 for fast.  This album beautifully balances both tempos- offering lovely mellow compositions mixed with faster rhythmic tracks.   The result, as Benoit recently remarked,  makes for "a nice soundtrack to fix a cocktail to”.  My thoughts exactly.

 

Gary James

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