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David Garfield: Behind the Beats

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: David Garfield.

David Garfield: songwriter, producer, arranger, session and touring musician, band leader, musical director, record label owner, and the list goes on… is BACK with a new project for 2022! The first single releases this week and we grabbed a few minutes with him to see what’s in store for the remainder of the year and beyond.

David, the new single is a tribute to George Benson, whom you have worked with over many years. Tell us more about how “Ticket To Pittsburgh” came about.

I always wanted to write an original instrumental song for George, and being in his band for so many years I felt I knew the essence of his musical comfort zone and wanted to create a song coming from that. Something I could imagine him tearing up live on stage in concert.

And you’ve got Paul Jackson Jr on guitar.

Paul is probably the most recorded guitar player of music history and his knowledge and depth of skills on the instrument made him the perfect choice to pull this off. The only problem was getting him to take a break in his incredibly busy schedule to do this with me together in his studio.

…and Eric Marienthal on sax.

Although it’s a guitar-oriented tune, I thought the addition of sax on the melody would strengthen the overall sound and Eric is truly one of my favorite saxophone players to work with, we get each other and have great musical chemistry both live on stage and in the studio.

How was it working with David Paich on writing the tune?

I’ve had the thrill of collaborating with David Paich musically since the ‘70s. David is such a talented songwriter, most people know his works like Lowdown, Africa and Rosanna for Toto, and Lady Love Me for George. His father is also a remarkable arranger who has been recorded by all the greats and David brings an incredible level of integrity to anything he does musically, he pushed me to the highest level of my songwriter craft and we took the bridge through many different key modulations together that make the song quite unique, especially in the world of smooth jazz.

You have been George Benson’s musical director over many years. Any road stories you can share?

OMG George is like a father to me. One time we toured Japan together in the ‘80s with Earl Klugh and his band, George relied on me to teach them George’s music and arrangements so we could deliver the true Benson sound in the concerts. Funny thing happened on the way to Japan, George and I were flying to Chicago to meet up with Earl’s band and we got stranded in Atlanta, it looked like we were going to miss the first concert until, while George and I were running down the concourse, I noticed a giant JAL plane outside the window and said “Somehow we’re gonna get to Japan.” I was able to figure out how to get us straight from Atlanta to Tokyo without going to Chicago to meet the others and of course we went first class all the way and George signed many autographs for the JAL staff at the airport VIP lounge. I have so many stories from the 30 plus years I’ve worked with George live and in the studio, I could write a book!

Another great memory was being on the Johnny Carson show and shaking Johnny’s hand while he told George what a big fan he was. George is a true music legacy and I’m so happy I could do a tribute song to my friend.

Outside The Box was a really cool project. Now, I know you have the year ahead mapped out with a new project… Tell us about the new project, Salute To The Masters and what we can look forward to.

Salute To The Masters is really turning out to be the perfect vehicle for me to showcase my playing and arranging while nodding my head to the jazz greats so they are continually remembered, especially to the new and younger members of the audience. We’ve already done tributes to Herbie Hancock (“Hunting Heads”) and Joe Sample (“Rainbow Seeker”).

Tell us about the Chick Corea tribute.

Chick was a dear friend and mentor to me. One night we were playing at the House of Blues and I was backing up Isaac Hayes and Dan Akroyd doing the Blues Brothers show, actually we were doing the song “Soul Man”, and I turned around and saw Chick and his wife standing behind me smiling. He was one of my main musical influences that inspired me to take the road of music as a profession, especially as a keyboardist. We’ve recorded a brand new, very cool arrangement of his song “Windows” which will feature one of his band members, Eric Marienthal.

…and Miles Davis?

I’m always proud to be from St. Louis and our rich musical heritage with Miles Davis sitting on the throne as the king. He is undoubtedly everyone’s biggest influence and his Kind of Blue album is the biggest selling jazz album of all-time. This song we selected from that album, Freddie Freeloader, leant itself to a contemporary jazz/funk arrangement which features blues overtones from the guitar. We have very special guests lined up for this, so stay tuned!

What live performances do you have planned for the remainder of 2022?

Outside of playing every other month at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato here in LA, I’m doing live stream shows from my house featuring the very best musicians in Southern California. You can tune in on our YouTube channel any time or watch them live as they happen. So far we’ve had special guests such as Bob Mintzer of the Yellowjackets, Grant Geissman, Freddie Washington (Steely Dan), Eric Marienthal, and many more!

How are you interacting with fans online these days?

We’re doing a lot of stuff on YouTube these days, kind of making that our online hub. Live streams, interviews, archival footage, and video podcasts. We’re also on all major streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon etc.

Keep up with David Garfield vis his website, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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