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"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview" David Benoit

david benoitSmitty:  I am totally excited about my next guest. He’s one of the most influential cats in the business; he has solidly honed his craft in every way imagined in terms of piano, keyboard, organ, you name it; he’s got a great new project that’s about to be released that is a wonderful follow-up to Orchestral Stories; it’s called Full Circle and let me tell ya, it’s full circle of this cat and you’re gonna love this great CD.  Please welcome the amazing Peak Records recording artist Mr. David Benoit.  David, how ya doin’, my friend?

David Benoit (DB):  I’m doing great, Smitty, thanks.

Smitty:  Super.  Man, I love this new record and you’ve just gotta be excited because it’s just got such a groove, some wonderful rhythms, and it’s David Benoit, you know?  (Both laughing.)

DB:  Well, that’s it.  That was what we set out to do, to really come back into my comfort zone and what I love to do, and not that I don’t love to do everything else, but this is my meat and potatoes, I guess you can say.

Smitty:  Oh yeah. I could just anticipate the fans going nuts over this record because it’s just got that contemporary vibe, it’s got some smooth, and it’s got a little straight ahead too. I mean, it has that full spectrum.  I love Full Circle.  I’m sure it has other meanings, but it was just the full package of David Benoit, you know, put it out there, here’s me.

DB:  Yeah, that’s exactly what it was and we’d done a lot of special projects like Charlie Brown and the Orchestral Stories and the Benoit/Freeman (Project), and it was feeling like, oh, it’s time to just come out with what we call the mainstream David Benoit record, just straight down the middle, this is what I do and this is what I love, and here’s something for my fans, that they’ll know that I’m still very much in the game and love working in the format.

Smitty:  Yes indeed. You have created a storm in the format with this record because I think just starting out with the first track, “Café Rio,” what an introduction to this great record.

DB:  Yeah, it was the first cut we recorded on the record and we got a great energy on that track. Peak’s been so wonderful because a lotta times the labels, they start getting really strict about “Well, let’s open with a tune that’s the radio cut,” and even though “Café Rio” wasn’t the single, I felt that it just has a strong energy and Peak agreed and they were like “Yeah, absolutely.”  So it’s nice to just come right out of the box with something kinda upbeat and a real signature piece for me.

Smitty:  Yeah, and I wanna talk to you a little bit about your relationship there with Peak and with everybody there, but this record, I think, is one of those breakthroughs in a way that it’s sort of like what people have been waiting for for maybe a couple of years because I know you’ve made a transition to Peak and sometimes you gotta get in there and get your feet wet….

DB:  Yeah.

Smitty: ….and do some things but this one, it was time.

DB:  Yeah. Well, it was. It was definitely the right time and Peak’s been really gracious about allowing me to do some very different kinds of projects and I think everybody in a very positive way was saying “Hey, now we really would love to just have you get in the studio and have some fun.  Just make a David Benoit record.”  That’s exactly what they told me. I said “Okay.”  (Laughs.)

Smitty:  How ‘bout that? 

DB:  I’m totally down with that, you know? (Laughs)

Smitty:  Yes indeed, and I tell you, man, when you came out of the studio, I think you have created what everybody loves and what everybody expected and what everybody wanted.

DB:  Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate that.

Smitty:  Yeah, very cool.  Talk about some of the cats on this record that assisted you on this record.

DB:  Well, there’s so many.

Smitty:  (Laughs.)

DB:  A lot….all of them are friends for many years, and one of the ideas was to come back full circle with the people that had really helped me over the course of my career.  Friends like John Robinson from Rufus on drums and (Nathan) East of Fourplay on bass, I think one of the truly greatest rhythm sections of all time.

Smitty:  I totally agree.

DB:  Played on all those great records every step of the way and Linus & Lucy, and so we started there and then Paul Jackson, Jr., my good friend, on guitar, who’s a superstar now in jazz, and Oscar Castro Neves for the Brazilian stuff we did and Tim Weisberg, my old buddy, on flute, and Ron (King) and Andy Suzuki, who plays in my live band.

Smitty:  Yeah.

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