U.S. Street Date 05/29/2012
David Benoit is a musical enigma. One of the original smooth jazz, GRP, contemporary mainstays that has developed into one of the more original and compelling jazz pianists and composers of our time. While the actual street date for Conversation is just a little over a month away there are some things simply too good to wait on. If you also factor in pre-ordering new releases in the day of the digital download it is advantageous to plan on how to spend your entertainment dollar.
Benoit's talents run the musical table from jazz to brief excursions into classical along with Latin, pop and compelling looks at world music. Benoit is no longer a strict end result of a genre or of a dying radio format. The prolific genius of Benoit is he creates his own genres and his musical conversations are those with which he engages in the creative process with the subject matter being their musical dialog or interplay.
With Conversation, Benoit reconfirms he is not bound by genre or restricted by self imposed limitations. Benoit is joined by an eclectic array of guests including Jeff Golub, Pat Kelley, David Pack, Tim Weisberg and even classical pianist Robert Theis. While avoiding the self indulgent pitfalls that other artists would seemingly fall into with little effort, Benoit pays an ironic homage to himself with the lush "Napa Crossroads Overture" with the help of vocalist David Pack. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" adds a bit of texture and musical bite with the signature if not slightly blistering guitar solo from Jeff Golub. Layered musical texture, there is no musical ambiguity here but instead a contemporary composer playing for and with all parties involved. For the more straight ahead jazz devotee there is "Let's Get Ready" with a tight saxophone solo from David Sills in a 12 bar blues setting. Perhaps the most compelling piece is the closer "Conversation" where classical pianist Robert Theis and jazz burner Jeff Golub meet as a musical collective with compelling results.
A multi-layered release. Conversation is a three dimensional sonic depth of field and while Benoit most ambitious work to date contains a charming air of accessibility and warmth.
So what does David Benoit want the listener to take away from his effort?
A good feeling!
Mission accomplished with a stellar release!
Best contemporary release of the year? That is out of my hands but it is easily in the top 3!