David Benoit

Earthglow

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David Benoit has been quoted as saying that when he started recording Earthglow, he wanted the entire album to have a very electronica-minded approach, "with long loops and lots of samples, with a little piano in the mix." But Clark Germain, who Benoit co-produced Earthglow with, felt that going too far in the electronica direction would be a mistake -- and Benoit decided that Germain was right. That's a good thing because Earthglow, it turns out, is one of the more memorable albums in Benoit's catalog. "Will's Chill" (which was named after will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas) and "Straight Away" offer some acknowledgment of the downtempo/chillout/trip-hop aesthetic one finds on the softer side of electronica, but even then, Benoit doesn't allow the production to smother his musicianship. And even though much of Earthglow is relevant to smooth jazz, Benoit (who is heard on both electric keyboards and acoustic piano) isn't offering the type of lightweight elevator music that he has often been criticized for recording in the past. Earthglow is commercial music, but it's commercial music with integrity and substance. That is evident on "Botswana Bossa Nova," which draws on soul-jazz, Brazilian jazz, and African pop; it is evident on the somewhat Joe Sample-ish title song and the hypnotic "Sneaky as a Cat," which is mindful of both bossa nova and modal jazz. This 2010 release is by no means the work of a jazz purist, but it is definitely an album with a jazz mentality. And like 1989's Waiting for Spring (a straight-ahead bop/post-bop effort with an obvious Bill Evans influence) and 2008's Jazz for Peanuts (a tribute to Vince Guaraldi), Earthglow demonstrates that Benoit is quite capable of providing substantial, intelligent music when he puts his mind to it.

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