'Perfection Created - All By Himself'
Over the last quarter century, composer and pianist David Benoit (b. 1953) has been a passionate musical innovator committed to the exploration of many different art forms on the American landscape.
A five time Grammy nominee for his extraordinary and seminal contributions to contemporary jazz, Benoit has also embarked on a multi-faceted journey into the classical music world. This has led to guest pianist and conductor spots with numerous top symphonies and philharmonics, four performances at Carnegie Hall (including one with Maestro Leonard Bernstein), a performance on the steps of the Capitol Building with the National Symphony for the annual PBS July 4th event, and the creation of Kobe, a symphonic tone poem about a little girl growing up in postwar Japan.
This piece received its world debut with the Philippine Philharmonic in 2001 and will be performed in 2003 with Kent Nagano conducting the Berkeley Symphony. Benoit also recently completed his first year as Music Director of the Asia America Symphony. His first piano concerto, The Centaur and the Sphinx, will be completed next summer.
His latest album, 'Full Circle' is yet another very good David Benoit recording. He concentrates on making good contemporary jazz with excellent musicians (Paul Jackson, Jr., Luis Conte, JR Robinson, etc.). Indeed, Benoit veers away from smooth jazz and delivers distinctive Benoit themes.
Chatting recently with David, and noting that his press states that this new album is, and no pun intended, a coming full circle effect for you re: your career and such, I first asked him to explain this a little more "YES, THIS RECORD IS A RETURN TO A STRONG MELODIC COMPOSITON FORMAT WITH LIVE MUSICIANS IN THE STUDIO ALL OF WHOM ARE LONG TIME FRIENDS."
Your album title 'Full Circle' is obviously entitled for the abovementioned reason, but I'm wondering if it could have easily been entitled something else when it came time to name it? "THAT’S THE PROBLEM. THE TITLE REALLY ISN’T VERY ORIGINAL, BUT I COULDN’T THINK OF ANY OTHER TITLE THAT WAS APPROPRIATE."
If there was one track on this new album that truly encapsulated David Benoit at his musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? "CAFÉ RIO OR,,,,,,,,,,,YUSUKE THE GHOST."
And whilst we're revealing things, just when did you realize that 'Charlie Brown' was a character that you knew you would have to be musically involved with?! "WHEN I WAS IN THE SECOND GRADE."
Your career as a contemporary jazz pianist began in 1977 so what changes have you seen within the genre of the business - good, bad and ugly?! "THE ADVENT OF THE CD WAS GOOD. THAT BEGAN SMOOTH JAZZ. BUT NOW, IT’S BECOME VERY TEPID AND NO ONE IS TAKING ANY RISKS. THAT’S UGLY."
Do you have a funny, possibly embarrassingly story you can tell us that may have happened to you on this road to stardom?! "ONE NIGHT SOMEONE HANDED ME A NOTE ON SATGE AND I READ IT ALOUD “DEAR DAVID: YOUR FLY IS OPEN”!"
It's also been said that your 1985 radio hit 'Linus and Lucy' helped launch the smooth jazz genre! Wow, now that's one big statement, but is it completely true in your own mind? "THERE IS TRUTH TO THAT AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, IT WAS ONE OF THE FIRST LIVE DIGITAL CD RELEASES."
What '80s (and possibly cheesy!) song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! ""ALL BY MYSELF” BY ERIC CARMEN. IS THAT CHEEZY ENOUGH??"
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! "HMM. THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF OUR SYMPHONY LIKES THEM. I SHOULD PUT YOU IN TOUCH WITH HIM!"
Thanx again for doing this for us today, and we wish you all the best for the future "THANKS RUSSELL. INTERESTING QUESTIONS. COOL. DB."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of David's new CD, just answer this easy question: Up until the end of 2005, how many Grammy awards has David been Nominated for?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new and AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before October 15th with your answer and the subject title 'CONTEST: DAVID BENOIT SIGNED CDs' to: email@example.com
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