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David Benoit: Right Here, Right Now

For his 23rd CD as a leader, keyboardist David Benoit decided to loosen up and get a bit funky with his road band: saxophonist Andy Suzuki, guitarist Pat Kelley and bassist Dean Taba. Although he’s not ready to tour with George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic, this recording represents a dramatic departure from Benoit’s normally very melodic and classical-tinged music. Aiding him are smooth-jazz buddies Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson, Euge Groove, Peter White and Nathan East.

“Watermelon Man” comes straight out the gate with a captivating arrangement and a groove that’s impossible not to tap your feet to, and “Jellybeans and Chocolate” commands the same kind of response. Longtime fans of Benoit needn’t worry about him totally discarding his usual style. That tendency prevails on covers of “Don’t Know Why,” (the blockbuster hit for Norah Jones) and James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight.” Furthermore, original numbers such as the airy and sophisticated “Third Encounter,” “Swingin’ Waikiki” (a hip getaway samba featuring Suzuki’s captivating tenor) and gospel-tinged “Wistful Thinking” showcase Benoit’s other playing styles.

Interestingly, even mainstream jazz finds its way onto Right Here, Right Now through “Quiet Room.” This track is a total surprise and features Kelley, Braun and the bandleader playing a somber tribute to Benoit’s deceased father.

Originally Published