David Benoit: Behind the Beats
Updated: May 4
Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: David Benoit.
Grammy nominated pianist / composer David Benoit is one of the veteran artists in smooth jazz and his new single “A Midnight Rendezvous” is currently climbing on the Smooth Jazz Charts. We grabbed a few moments with David this past week to catch up.
David, thanks for taking the time with us! “A Midnight Rendezvous” is sounding great on the airwaves! Tell us about the new single.
The new single is a co-write with my bass player Roberto Vally. I approached me with this very hypnotic groove and I came up with the melody.
One of the quintessential tunes in the smooth jazz format is your “Freedom at Midnight.” Does the new single have any relationship to that tune besides the title?
There seem to be a lot of jazz tunes that have the word “midnight” in them. I’m not sure why, but I guess it’s a bit intriguing what goes on after hours.
You’ve written all of the tunes on the new album. Tell us about your song writing process.
Well, almost all of them. 8 out of 10. Anyway, my songwriting process varies. Usually, it’s a call from a producer that gets me going on a new song. A deadline if you will. I love deadlines and working under pressure. The piano is where I start with some chord changes and then a melody. Sometimes I write it down on pencil and paper, (old school), or demo it in the computer the later the more preferred way nowadays.
And you have three Big band arrangements on the album.
Yes I do. These are my pride and joy. It was a dream of mine for a long time and I decided to make it happen but not go crazy. Just start with a few tunes and see what kind of reaction I get. So far, it’s been very positive.
Your musical influences cross the worlds of jazz, smooth jazz and even classical. Tell us about your musical influences and how they have impacted you as an artist.
My musical influences are pretty wide ranging from Ramsey Lewis to Sergio Mendes, to Leonard Bernstein, John Barry, Henry Mancini, Bill Evans, Stephen Sondheim and Oscar Peterson.
You are a man of many talents… even as a radio host! Tell us about that experience.
A new facet of my career that I would have never expected until I got a call from Saul Levine, the owner of Kjazz. Now I also have a show on K-Mozart called “Ovation” exploring my love for classical music.
How has being a professional musician changed for you over the decades?
I’ve been a professional musician all my life since I was 17 so I know of no other life…
Any advice for young artists working toward a career as a performer?
Find your own, unique creative voice. The competition is crazy out there now so the more you can do something unique that nobody else has thought of, the better chance of success. A little bit of talent and practice go a long way too..
What’s next for you?
Good question which I have no immediate answer for yet. Just taking it one day at a time.