Contemporary Jazz

VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases

Here On Earth

28 APR 10 JONATHAN WIDRAN

Four years after his last batch of all-original material, David Benoit is back making new music and there's this universally majestic Earthglow (the colorful name of his Heads Up debut) all around him.

After over three decades of releasing consistently solid contemporary jazz albums -- many of which have defined and blazed unique trails through the smooth urban jazz genre -- it would be easy for him to coast, take a chill from jazz, or at least focus more on his many classical endeavors. These include regularly conducting the Asia America Symphony Orchestra, which he led through Beethoven's Ninth at Disney Hall last July, and leading others like the L.A. Philharmonic. For a few years, the piano great did take a slight creative breather with a covers album (Heroes) and another Charlie Brown-themed stroll called Jazz For Peanuts.

With Earthglow, the five-time Grammy nominee he coins a new phrase connected to the idea of world harmony through music. He forges the future of his genre starting with "Botswana Bossa Nova" and "Will's Chill," two fresh slices of light funk cool unlike any songs he has done before. As its title suggests, "Botswana..." swirls ethnic percussion, African choral voices and Brazilian beats into a mix Austin Powers could find groovalicious.

"Will's Chill" draws on Benoit's appreciation for pop superstar will.i.am from Black Eyed Peas and the pianist's attraction to the loungey, jazzy Euro chill vibe. Benoit keeps the world beat smoking through the jungle percussion rhythms (featuring African tablas) and Rick Braun's muted trumpet on "Unbelievable" and ventures into Chick Corea/Herbie Hancock turf on the Fender Rhodes driven retro slam "New Creation." The title track was inspired by the stunning NASA photo of our planet that graces the cover.

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    Botswana Bossa Nova

    David Benoit, from Earthglow

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    Never Can Say Goodbye

    David Benoit, from Heroes

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    The Great Pumpkin Waltz

    David Benoit & Various Artists, from Jazz ...

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