David Benoit

Urban Daydreams

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Should there be any doubt as to why over the course of a few short years in the mid- to late '80s David Benoit shot from relative obscurity to certifiable contemporary jazz superstardom, this diverse outing will quickly put it to rest. With Benoit's assistance, producer Don Grusin perfectly layers the many adventurous synthesizer riffs and lush orchestration here with Benoit's elegant acoustic piano. Grusin penned the most exciting track (if not one of the best cuts of Benoit's early career), the funky and melodic "Sailing Through the City," which features the high flying sax work of Eric Marienthal. Benoit either wrote or co-wrote the other eight tunes, ranging from the introspective "Looking Back" to the playful "Snow Dancing," but he really strikes pay-dirt on the title track, which has that unmistakable Benoit trademark, a mellow beginning and a rousingly upbeat finish. Also a lot of fun is the perky, spirited "Wild Kids," which he wrote with Grusin for a Charlie Brown TV special. With each new album, Benoit began taking new and inspired chances in the format's early days. On his previous album Every Step of the Way, it was the classically tinged "Rebach" and here it's "Sailing..." Fortunately, he knows just how to please, and so sticks for the most part to the magic touch he has displayed so formidably on the acoustic piano. When you hear a Benoit tune, you can instantly identify it. Such definition characterized his even greater output of the '90s.

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