David Benoit is a world renown Jazz Artist and Composer. He has a lot of his own work, and has done other work for TV shows such as All My Children, and Peanuts.
He has performed all over the world, his jazz music, and conducting various symphonies. He has also recently composed his first classical work, KOBE.
MI interviewed this music great, and heres what he told us!
I remember when I was about 5 years old my parents moved the upright piano into
my bedroom. And I remember my
mother playing the piano, and teaching me a few things, I was getting kind of
interested in it. Then I also
remember going to my grandmothers house, they had a grand piano in the living
room, I was probably about 6 or 7, I remember kind of coming up with a little
composition that I was showing my grandmother.
A little something I came up with. Some
little composition in ĺ time on the white keys.
of course Henry Mancini was one, when I was growing up, he was very popular.
The guy that wrote the James Bond music, John Berry was an influence.
Sergio Mandez. The Beatles.
Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson later on as I got older.
Ramsey Luis to a certain extent. To
name a few.
think it was right around, I was 17 in my last year of High School, I started
doing well in music programs and I was scoring the music for a broadway show we
were doing. And I started doing a
weekend gig playing the piano in Redondo Beach. Thatís when I decided, the last year of high school, that I
was going to do it for a living. I
just started going out, playing clubs and meeting people.
of my early gigs was playing on the Redondo Beach Pier in the Top 40 bands when
I was 17. Well, before that,
actually my first performance as Dave Benoit was at the Stage Door Coffee House
in downtown L.A. when I was 16. I
had a quartet, we played some originals, that was the first, probably official
performance. I probably got paid
its been a lot, Iíve played in Larry Carltonís band for awhile.
A figure named lady Cusan, and actress, I was her conductor for a long
time. I worked with a lot of
different orchestras in Vegas and Atlantic City.
I worked with Tom Scott, I did a tour with Lee Rittenhower.
I learned that itís a lot of fun to conduct, I also learned that there is a
lot of preparation that goes into it before you actually wave the baton.
And you can always prepare more, knowing the score, and knowing all the
parts and really being able to be up there with confidence when players have
problems and questions. That was one of the biggest things I think Iíve learned.
But its something I certainly want to do more of.
I like both, Iíd like to do more conducting as I get older, I feel the passion
for it, but I love playing, I always will want to play, Iím sure as long as
Iím in the music business. Both
is difficult to do, but its fun, to play the piano then conduct landmark cues
with the orchestra.
usually with the symphony, you just get one day of rehearsal.
I just did another symphony gig a couple weekends ago with the Asia
America Symphony, and we did a few of my songs, and the music from Miss Saigon,
the overture. We did a medley of
songs from Cinderella. We did something with Michael Palo, a lot of fun.
That was in L.A.
in Japan, the audience is a little more focused for sure, theyíre not as loud
as American audiences. You have to
get used to it, the response is a little different. Its pretty good, and they end up reserving a lot of their
response until the end, then theyíll really show it. They are very appreciative.
not really, I had a drum set when I was a kid, I used to bang on the drums.
I have a guitar that used to be my dadís and I mess around with that a
little bit, but mostly itís piano, and keyboards, you know I have keyboards,
and electronic keyboards. I work on
those a little bit.
fair amount, all the Charlie Brown tribute music is of course mostly Vince
Geraldi, so theres not a lot of compositions of my own on that CD.
Usually on my records will be my own compositions.
and I collaborated with Kent Nagano, heís a famous conductor from the Bay
Area. And we are hoping to get a
recording of it. Iíve performed
it actually with the San Francisco Symphony not too long ago.
the major thing is that jazz is a lot of improvisation,
and classical all the notes are written out and do itís a lot more
intense. Its just a different
experience, and the classical music requires a little more background education.
But I think in jazz you can get away with a lot of stuff, kind of faking
things. You really canít do that
in classical music.
quite a bit, on the records too, sometimes I donít even really have a set
melody. I record a song, and I just
kind of improvise it in the session.
Iíd say jazz, jazz wins. But I
like classical, I can get into it. But
still my heart is always going to be in jazz, without a doubt.
know, I really donít listen to my own music in my free time, cause I get so
tired of it. But I like to listen
to Dave Brubeck, I like Bill Evans, I listen to a lot of Bill Evans, I like to
listen to Stan Getz. Um, there is a
piano player named Paul Sullivan thatís not very well known.
I like Eddy Daniels, heís got some nice records out.
I listen to Dave Grusin. Lee
Rittenhouer. Earl Cleu.
I like middle of the road but hip jazz.
I donít like to listen to things that are too heavy when Iím at home.
I like a lot of music that I relaxing.
terms of a composer, Iíd have to say Erin Colblan would be my favorite.
Heís brilliant, and heís crossed over from classical to jazz pretty
successfully. In terms of my
favorite artist, well I think Bill Evans, my hearts into Bill Evans, I think he
would be really right up there. If
not number one, certainly in the top five.
drink a lot of coffee and 7up. You
know I just try to get real up for the performace, a lot of times I prepare for
it when Iím in the shower, Iím kind of thinking about what Iím going to
play, how Iím going to do things. And
of course warming up and practicing all being part of it.
I would say you know a lot of practice, of course thatís the obvious thing,
but I think too, its good to understand about how the music business works, in
terms of publishing, and the mechanics of the record business.
But of course thatís all changing with the internet, a lot of big
changes, but its important to keep up with that.
Itís important as a musician to be very well rounded, be able to sight
read as well as orchestrate, arrange, as well as being really proficient on your
instrument. Itís good to have the
widest variety of music possible.
Well, Iím pretty proud of KOBE, Iím hoping to get that recorded someday soon. Iíve been proud of the work Iíve done with the San Francisco Symphony. And one of my albums I was very proud of called ďWaiting for SpringĒ, thatís a good one. Thereís a few.