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American Landscape

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Album Review

From his poignant liner notes, David Benoit would have us believe that the wide range of styles he delves into on the majestic American Landscape will take us on an adventure completely new in the pianist's catalog, but it simply expands upon the unique themes he introduced on 1994's Shaken Not Stirred, one of his best ever. These include his expansion into orchestral music, which grew out of his budding film score career: the dusty Western flavors of the title track "American Landscape," for example, actually evolved from of an unused demo for a Kevin Costner movie. The song includes the brilliant touches of Tommy Morgan's harmonica and the swelling London Symphony Orchestra, which dances here not with wolves, but in and around Eric Marienthal's funky sax. The melancholy orchestral intro to "A Personal Story" sounds like it should accompany scenes of heartbreak, but then Benoit throws a curve, easing into a lively trio date. That sort of cheerfulness reaches a fever pitch on the full-blown venture into salsa, "Mr. Rodriguez's Opus," highlighted by the dual energy of Benoit's Latin piano excitement and Jerry Hey's trumpet. The energetic closer "Speed Racer" builds from a soft orchestral intro into a full-on Western horse race between Benoit and banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, then combines a jazz trio with a dramatic orchestral underscore. Benoit's career has always been about those stylistic and thematic surprises popping up as a balance to his sense of jazz-pop fun. American Landscape stands as his most dramatic adventure yet.

Customer Reviews

A Must Have for any Smooth Jazz Connoisseur

Quite possibly one of the most listened to albums on my iPod. The sweet melodies of David Benoit both instill joy and relaxation during my busy days. "Lost in Tokyo" and "Mr. Rodriguez's Opus" are my two favorite tracks; but, the rest of the tracks are also well composed with love. "Speed Racer" and "Rue de la Soleil" are amazing in terms of beats. Overall, a fantastic album that has become a mainstay for dinner parties, hanging out with friends, and days at work. Definitely a must have for the jazz connoisseur.

The best of the best

I believe this may be one of just a few CD's where Benoit composed all of the music. He outdid himself and created a masterpiece for those who appreciate smooth jazz. The album takes you on an emotional rollercoaster from the energetic Speedracer and Max's Boogie to the "almost cry as you listen" Saying Goodbye written in honor of his mother. Mr. Benoit doesn't have to be a show-off, braggart or snob...he just has to pull out this CD and give a wicked little grin.


Born: August 18, 1953 in Bakersfield, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the more popular performers in the idiom somewhat inaccurately called "contemporary jazz," David Benoit has mostly performed light melodic background music, what critic Alex Henderson has dubbed "new age with a beat." Benoit has done a few fine jazz projects (including a tribute to Bill Evans and a collaboration with Emily Remler) but most of his output for GRP has clearly been aimed at the charts. He studied composition and piano at El Camino College and, in 1975, played on the soundtrack...
Full Bio
American Landscape, David Benoit
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Customer Ratings

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