Benoit is a regular contributor to contemporary jazz and smooth jazz
scene since his first album Heavier Than Yesterday (1977).
During his GRP-time he became popular by his album Freedom At
Midnight (1987) and his homage to Charles M. Schulz, the creator
of the Peanuts, the album Here's To You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great
Under the label Peak Records he has recorded Benoit/Freeman Project
2 (2004), Orchestral Stories (2005) and Full Circle (2006).
Now he is back
with his album Heroes (2008). Musicians on this album are
beside the maestro himself David Hughes (acoustic and electric bass),
Jamey Tate (drums) and Brad Dutz (percussion). As special guest
appears Andy Suzuki (alto and tenor sax). Don't mix up Heroes with the American science
fiction serial drama television series created by Tim Kring. David
Benoit's Heroes are artists like these who engaged David's
musical sensibilities throughout the years.
"These songs are
really a part of me and such a joy to play," David comments. "Being in
the studio working with longtime friends was a very comfortable
situation. I've covered Brubeck and Evans before, and ‘Blue Rondo A La
Turk' is as much a staple of my live show now as ‘Linus and Lucy' once
was. Oscar and Horace touched most pianists from my generation, and
I'm a huge fan of Dave Grusin and was signed to his GRP label for many
years. Beyond that, some of my other choices may surprise people, and
that's exciting to think about. Listening back to some of these gave
us goose bumps, and I want listeners to share in that excitement and
magic that we felt in the studio. One of my favorite Peanuts strips
has Charlie Brown walking into Schroeder's living room as Schroeder is
listening to the stereo in a huge overcoat. Charlie Brown asks,
‘Schroeder, why do you have an overcoat on? His reply: "Because I get
chills listening to Beethoven. That's the power of music."
David Benoit's album Heroes is a visit to his idols of the
past. The album starts with Mountain Dance, a composition of
Dave Grusin. Dave had recorded this piece with the London Symphony
Orchestra for his same titled album in 1979. Certainly this record is
Dave's master stroke. David Benoit considers this composition as one
of the finest in contemporary jazz. His revival on the Steinway piano
is the outmost musical delicacy one can imagine.
"When I first
heard Human Nature I was blown away. I had a lot of fun
recording this one," comments David about the next tune. With his
trenchant piano style David reveals the beauty of this song in a
magical way. The song was written by John Bettis for Michael Jackson's
Elton John is a
blessed composer and one of the most successful too. Your Song
was the song which made Elton John popular in the world and was a
great breakthrough in 1970. David says: "This song came out during my
last year of high school and I have been an Elton John fan ever
since." Again David brilliantly redefines the melody structure in all
The Doors have
dominated the pop world in the '60s with their album Light My Fire
(1967), a stellar composition which is without no doubt an all-time pop
standard. "The Doors was one of the first rock bands to use keyboards.
I learned this piece when I was 15 years-old growing up in the South
Bay," recalls David Benoit. Nothing can replace Morrison's vocals
except David's Steinway.
songwriter Clifton Davis wrote Never Can Say Goodbye for the
Jackson 5, a big hit in 1971. "This is a great and sometimes
overlooked song that I learned starting out in R&B bands," says David.
On David's piano the quality of this song shines brightly.
Home is a composition of the legendary team John Lennon and Paul
McCartney recorded for the Sgt. Pepper album (1967). Critics
declare this song as the most sentimental of the album. David
comments: "The Sgt. Pepper album that this song originates from
changed my life." Following the orchestral concept of the original
David's piano recitation is supported by a string quartet of members of
the Asia America Symphony.
Song For My
Father was released by Horace Silver in 1964 on Blue Note and
became Silver's most popular composition. Steely Dan's Rikky Don't
Loose That Number was also influenced by this song. "This is the
first jazz tune I learned by ear," reminds David. This classic jazz
piece has nothing loose of its charm.
David Benoit has
dedicated You Look Good To Me to the memory of Oscar Peterson
who passed away as this record was being recorded. The tune is full of
emotional melancholy in the intro and uplifting joie de vivre in the
Bill Evans wrote
Waltz For Debbie while still in the Army.
was released on the Riverside label and was Bill's debut as a leader.
David comments: "Bill. I'm so thankful that I had a few opportunities
to meet him. He left us way too young."
Little Etude is David's tribute to his mentor and friend Dave
Brubeck. So logically consistent David closes his album with Dave
Brubeck's masterpiece Blue Rondo A La Turk. The main theme is
performed in 9/8 rhythms using the classic rondo form of Mozart's
Rondo alla Turca. David says: "This is a classic and rather than
re-invent it, we stayed true to the original." Not easy to
follow the original weird rhythm structure. But David and his band did
it in all perfection.
David offers with
Heroes a veritable album for friends of pop and jazz music. I
promised my friend, a German pianist, to show him some good piano
albums on his next visit. David's Heroes is certainly among