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Right Here, Right Now

David Benoit

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Album Review

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.

Biography

Born: 18 August 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 been aimed clearly at the charts. He studied composition and piano at El Camino College and, in 1975, played on the soundtrack...
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Right Here, Right Now, David Benoit
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