The Benoit/Freeman project is a reunion of sorts, as both smooth jazz icons worked on 1986's landmark Rippingtons debut Moonlighting and together wrote Benoit's hit "Every Step of the Way." Since then, Freeman's career with that band and Benoit's as a solo artist spearheaded the smooth jazz movement while expanding the rules on just what modern jazz is. The new project combines the radio-friendly pleasures inherent in their separate endeavors with an exciting expansion and interplay of fresh and innovative ideas. Though the focus is clearly on the interplay between guitar and piano, the two are surrounded by all-star backing talent like Nathan East, Abe Laboriel, John Robinson, and former Rippingtons members Steve Reid and Tony Morales. Much attention was directed to Kenny Loggins' wonderful vocal performance of "When She Believed in Me," but the Phil Perry sung version of "After the Love Is Gone" is superfluous; it's beautiful but adds nothing to the original Earth, Wind & Fire arrangement. Instrumental highlights include "Mediterranean Nights" (a seven-minute meditation featuring symphonic elements and Freeman's rich electric guitar work), the percussive "Swept Away," moody "The End of Our Season," and a remake of "Mirage," one of Moonlighting's most beautiful tunes. The two seem to have been too busy for a follow-up, but smooth jazz could definitely benefit from another tandem brainstorm like this.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran