David Benoit, “Full Circle”

Written by Micheal Marsh

I must confess that I am just an occasional fan of David Benoit.  He is a very accomplished piano player and a lot of people like him.  However, he normally tends to be a little too smooth and mellow for me.  That is not the case at all with his newest release, “Full Circle”, released June 27, 2006, on the Peak Records label. 

This CD does contain a  few smooth and mellow numbers, as would be expected, but it also includes enough upbeat jams to persuade me to add this one to my collection.  Benoit starts out with a bang on the very first track, a really smoking Latin jam named “Café Rio”.  This is my favorite cut on the album.  Benoit really tickles the piano keys on this one and is joined by Nathan East, who adds a very nice bass in the background. 

The second track, “First Day Of School” is very reminiscent of the type of songs that David Benoit used to record for the Charlie Brown cartoon specials on television.  I’m sure the loyal Benoit fans will like this one a lot, but I could live without it. 

The third track, “Water To Drink (Agua de Beber)”, is another Latin-flavored number, originally written and recorded by the legendary Antonio Carlos Jobim.  Benoit is joined by Paul Brown on guitar, Jerry Hey on trumpet, Dan Higgins on sax and flute, and Bill Reichenbach on trombone on this selection, and together, they definitely do justice to Jobim’s original vision. 

Benoit keeps the party moving right along with the fourth track, "Beat Street", on which he definitely demonstrates his ability to throw down on the keyboard.  The horn section on "Beat Street" really compliments Benoit’s solo work on the keyboard.

Benoit is joined by Rick Braun, playing muted trumpet, on the fifth track, "Six P.M.", another real nice latin-flavored instrumental.  Euge Groove joins Benoit on the next cut, on a number entitled "Chasing the Clouds".  Euge Groove’s sax sounds really sweet with Benoit’s piano on this one, as they take turns on lead from beginning to end. 

"Neat With A Twist", appearing at track seven, is a nice upbeat smooth jazz number, with a slightly funky edge to it.  After "Neat With A Twist", Benoit gets back to more Charlie Brown music with the next two tracks, "Katrina’s Little Bear" and "Yusuke The Ghost".  They’re alright, but I could do without them. 

Finally, Benoit closes out his CD with "Monster In The Attic", another upbeat jam.  This one is a little quirky, but I like it nevertheless, because of Benoit’s excellent keyboard work.  He is joined by Nathan East again on bass guitar and Paul Jackson, Jr. on electric guitar on this one.  As you listen to "Monster In The Attic", pay close attention to Nathan East’s bass playing, and see if you agree with me that he sounds a little like Willie Weeks from the classic Donny Hathaway "Live" album, from 1972.

Benoit presents us with a real nice effort on "Full Circle".  I recommend it highly and give it 4.5 stars out of 5. 

Michael Marsh is the jazz reviewer for TNCP. To make contact, you may e-mail him at tmarshmellow@aol.com for review.