Since launching his recording career in 1977, David Benoit’s expansive career as a contemporary jazz pianist and composer has included over 25 solo recordings. His ’80s releases This Side Up, Freedom at Midnight and the GRAMMY-nominated Every Step of the Way are considered influential genre classics. Among his other GRAMMY nominations are those for Best Instrumental Composition (for “Dad’s Room,” from 1999’s Professional Dreamer) and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance (for the GRP All-Star Big Band). His prolific output since 2000 includes several prominent Charlie Brown related projects (including Here’s To You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years and the star-studded 40 Years: A Charlie Brown Christmas) that reflect his lifelong passion for the music of original Peanuts composer Vince Guaraldi and solidify Benoit’s role as his musical heir. Benoit has also released the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charting albums Fuzzy Logic, Right Here, Right Now, Full Circle and Heroes, which paid homage to the pianist’s top jazz and pop influences.
Benoit’s ever expanding slate of orchestral music endeavors include his ongoing role as conductor of the Asia America Symphony Orchestra and leading such eminent orchestras as the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the symphonies of London, Nuremberg, San Francisco, Atlanta, San Antonio and San Jose. Concurrent with his burgeoning career as a conductor, he recorded 1996’s American Landscape with The London Symphony Orchestra and 2005’s Orchestral Stories with members of the Asia America Symphony Orchestra and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Orchestral Stories featured his first piano concerto “The Centaur and the Sphinx” and his acclaimed symphonic piece “Kobe,” both of which he has performed in live settings across the country. In 2009, Benoit performed and conducted Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” with the Asia America Symphony Orchestra in a show that included Broadway great Lea Salonga; he later conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the same orchestra in his critically acclaimed debut at Los Angeles’ Disney Hall.
Benoit’s notable film scores include The Stars Fell on Henrietta, produced by Clint Eastwood and starring Robert Duvall; and The Christmas Tree, produced by Sally Field, voted Best Score of 1996 by Film Score Magazine. Benoit has also been a longtime guest educator with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, winning the organization’s “excellence in music education” award in 2001.
In October 2008, Benoit took a much needed breather from the frenetic pace of life in Los Angeles and headed up to the mountains near Saratoga to become an artist in residence at Villa Montalvo. Finding peaceful solitude and discovering fresh inspiration in a small cabin, he wrote “Botswana Bossa Nova” and “Will’s Chill,” two unique pieces unlike any he had done before. These became the foundation for the overall global music concept behind Benoit’s stirring and provocative April 2010 recording, Earthglow, his first set of original material in four years.
On October 29, 2010, the pianist/composer was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Smooth Jazz Awards in Michigan City, Indiana.
This year, Benoit will head on the road to perform compositions from his latest album, Conversation. Set for release on May 29, 2012, on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, Benoit gets assistance along the way from musicians representing a broad cross section of styles: electric guitarist Jeff Golub, acoustic guitarist Pat Kelley, guitarist David Pack, flutist Tim Weisberg, classical pianist Robert Theis and a cadre of young classical players who are fearless about taking their music to less traditional and more adventurous and exploratory places.