225

David Benoit: Heroes

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
David Benoit: Heroes An ongoing trend in music is for veteran artists to do albums comprised of cover songs—whether to celebrate a particular musician, era or record label, revisit the music they grew up with or for commercial reasons. Done poorly, the collection can be trite. Pianist/keyboardist David Benoit attempts to avoid that pitfall with Heroes, a mixed bag of favorites heard over his lifetime.

Benoit has compiled an impressive resume of solo albums, as well as collaborations with Russ Freeman and contributions to recordings by the Freeman-led Rippingtons, among others. Benoit is also an exceptional composer and conductor, whose catalogue includes straight jazz, classical, pop, smooth jazz and R&B. Examples of all of those styles are present on Heroes, which is part tribute to popular jazz recordings and part nostalgia.

Dave Grusin's "Mountain Dance" opens the set. Benoit begins by keeping with the mood and melody of the original. He then shifts into a swinging solo, accompanied by bassist David Hughes and drummer Jamey Tate.

One song that's already received lots of attention from fans is "Human Nature," originally recorded by Michael Jackson and expertly covered by Miles Davis. Benoit makes it familiar enough for fans of the Jackson recording, yet gives it that Benoit touch which makes it an excellent stand-alone tune. Hughes and Tate provide strong accompaniment, but it's Benoit's piano that emphasis the beauty of this song.

Elton John's "Your Song," The Doors' "Light My Fire" and the Clifton Davis composition "Never Can Say Goodbye" are pleasant but unremarkable, especially when compared to existing covers of these songs by other artists.

The orchestral side of Benoit comes through with The Beatles' "She's Leaving Home." His regular accompanists sit this one out as Benoit is joined by a string quartet—members of the Asia American Symphony, which he has conducted. Though the melody is recognizable to fans of Lennon and McCartney, it has the feel of an original song.

Percussionist Brad Dutz adds some emphasis on Horace Silver's "Song for My Father." The arrangement isn't very distinctive from other covers of this classic, but it's hard to argue with Benoit's elegant piano. Things get playful on Oscar Peterson's "You Look Good to Me." Bass, drums and piano deliver a fiery performance on one of the liveliest tracks on the album.

Benoit brings a different arrangement to a song he has previously covered, Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debbie," performs the album's only original song, "A Twisted Little Etude," featuring saxophonist Andy Suzuki, and closes the set with Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk."

Except for the trilogy that begins with "Your Song," Benoit largely succeeds in playing the music that influenced his development without sounding like everybody else. That may not be enough for some listeners, but Heroes is one example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.


Track Listing: Mountain Dance; Human Nature; Your Song; Light My Fire; Never Can Say Goodbye; She's Leaving Home; Song for My Father; You Look Good to Me; Waltz for Debbie; A Twisted Little Etude; Blue Rondo a la Turk.

Personnel: David Benoit: piano, synthesizer; David Hughes: acoustic and electric bass; Jamey Tate: drums; Brad Dutz: percussion; Andy Suzuki: alto and tenor sax; Yun Tang: concertmaster, violin (6); Michelle Suh: violin (6); Quing "John" Wang: viola (6); Catherine Chan Biagini: cello (6).

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Peak Records | Style: Contemporary/Smooth


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Brel" CD/LP/Track Review Brel
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 30, 2016
Read "The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark" CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Welcome Back" CD/LP/Track Review Welcome Back
by John Sharpe
Published: March 28, 2016
Read "Regards To You II" CD/LP/Track Review Regards To You II
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 4, 2016
Read "Live At Zaal 100" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Zaal 100
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2016
Read "Moments in Time" CD/LP/Track Review Moments in Time
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 7, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!