David Benoit started playing piano at 13 and majored in music theory and composition at El Camino College. After college, he was music dirctor and conductor, first for Lainie Kazan, and later for Ann-Margret and Connie Stevens. He recorded six albums for Blue Moon Records before 1986’s This Side Up on the En Pointe label, which reached #4 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. Since then, he’s recorded albums on GRP, Varese Sarabande, Peak, Concord, and other labels, his most recent being last year’s So Nice, a collaboration on Shanachie with guitarist Marc Antoine.
His 1992 album Letter To Evan was a tribute to pianist Bill Evans, who recorded an album by the same name in 1980. Here’s the title track.
He recorded Here’s To You, Charlie Brown! in 2000, as a memorial to Charles M. Schulz, who had died earlier that year. The album had a number of songs that had been written by Vince Guaraldi, who wrote and performed the music for the Peanuts specials before his death in 1976. Here’s “Christmas Time Is Here,” from A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965). The vocals are provided by the gospel sextet Take 6.
In addition to Antoine, Benoit has recorded several collaboration albums, including two with Russ Freeman of The Rippingtons, Jane Monheit, Brian Bromberg, and Greg Bissonette. According to his website, he’s currently on tour with vocalist Sara Gazarek, his “Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown,” which has dates in California and Colorado.
David Benoit, your Two for Tuesday, December 4, 2018.