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JT Album Premiere: A Midnight Rendezvous by David Benoit

The pianist/composer's first album featuring a big band is due out Feb. 18 on Shanachie

David Benoit
David Benoit (photo courtesy of Shanachie Records)

Happy Valentine’s Day! JazzTimes is honored to present an advance premiere of the latest album by David Benoit, A Midnight Rendezvous, which will be released by Shanachie Records on February 18. This collection marks the first time that the Grammy-nominated pianist, composer, arranger, and producer has recorded with a big band under his own leadership, and it also boasts appearances by numerous special guests, including saxophonists Eric Marienthal and Gordon Goodwin, trumpeter Wayne Bergeron, bassist Ben Williams, and keyboardist Jeff Lorber.

“COVID gave me a rare opportunity to sit back and do some serious composing,” Benoit tells JazzTimes. “Usually I only have a few weeks to prepare for a record but this time I had over a year! I’ve had several opportunities during my 40-year career of making records but never actually wrote new original big-band material, so I had the time during COVID and got Shanachie’s blessing to include three big-band tracks. It was another dream session to come true!”

The three tracks in question—“Generations,” “Waiting for Spring,” and “Cabin Fever”—close the album in grand style with a 12-piece group that features Benoit on piano; Marienthal and Sal Lozano on alto saxophones; Goodwin on tenor sax; Jay Mason on baritone sax; Bergeron, Dan Fornero, and Dan Rosenblum on trumpets; Francisco Torres on trombone; Charlie Morillas on bass trombone; Roberto Vally on acoustic bass; and Dan Schnelle on drums.

A Midnight Rendezvous’ other seven tracks include “Pioneer Town,” co-written with Lorber and recorded with him, Williams, electric bassist MonoNeon, and drummer John “JR” Robinson as a pandemic-style virtual live collaboration; a reinvention of Maren Morris’ country hit “The Bones”; and a solo piano take on Dave Koz’s “You Make Me Smile.” Benoit says of the latter: “When I toured with Dave, I would mess around with that song at soundcheck. I always thought it would be a nice piano piece because of its strong melodic nature. … And it’s the perfect song for Valentine’s Day!”

For more information on David Benoit, visit his website.