Smooth Jazz Magazine

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David Benoit

Interview with David Benoit
A Midnight Rendezvous
By: Avzal Ismail


David Benoit; What can be said about a musician who has done it all in style through the decades, gathering a global legion of fans in the process and still at his “A” game. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing him on the release of his latest stellar 10 track album “A Midnight Rendezvous” with Big Band. Definitely, a must-have for all Benoit fans. 

He was most engaging during the interview while covering several topics one being influencers such as Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Bach the music of Brazil, and classical music among many others which are staples for the development of any musician irrespective of era or genre for a young artist to enhance their art form. We touched on the effects that Covid has on the industry as we agreed that the impact has been devastating to the global music scene, especially regarding touring and live performances.  Enjoy the rest of my interview with David…

SJM: Are there any songs that fans ‘expect’ you to play when performing live? 

DAVID: Oh yes there are! 

  1. Linus and Lucy
  2. Freedom at Midnight
  3. Kei’s Song

SJM: Give the readers some insight into your creative process. What gets your creative juices flowing?

DAVID: Oh that would be a call from a producer. It’s always nice to have deadlines like when the record label asks for a new record. That always gets the juices flowing!

SJM: Do you have any favorite big bands or big band leaders current or past?

DAVID: Some of my favorites include Rob McConnell and The Boss Brass, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, Buddy Rich Big Band just to name a few. 

SJM: When you were an up-and-coming musician was there any album or were there any albums that had a particular influence on you?

DAVID: There were many. One was a group from New Orleans called BOSS TRES BIEN. Also, Ramsey Lewis, Sergio Mendes, Henry Mancini, and all the early James Bond soundtracks. 

SJM: What drew you to record Maren Morris’ “The Bones?”

DAVID: My manager brought that song to me and I thought it had a nice mysterious groove. 

SJM: Any special memories when you were the music director for Ann Margret and Connie Stevens?

DAVID: Well actually, when I toured with Ann Margret, it was the only time I’ve been to South Africa. We played at the resort called “Sun City.” This was in the late 70’s during Apartheid. One time I played and conducted for Connie Stevens in Atlantic city then the following week, I walked over to the hotel next door and did a week with Lainie Kazan. 

SJM: WOW…Sun City..a few hours’ drive away from me. Anyways to continue, When I listen to your Big Band songs such as “Cabin Fever” I get the sense that you were bouncing off the walls so to speak, “Generations,” “Waiting for Spring” all evoke different emotions. Could you perhaps describe a bit of each?

DAVID: “Generations” is about my memories playing with Dave Brubeck who was 80 and Taylor Eigsti who was 17 at the time. “Waiting for Spring” and “Cabin Fever” appear on my first all straight jazz album, “Waiting for Spring.” I thought those tunes lent themselves well to big band. 

SJM: Thank you David for an insightful interview and for taking the time out to talk to us.

DAVID: It’s my pleasure and thank you for having me.