Since the main guy, David Benoit, is a pianist, it seems only logical that he played the IMAC 9' Baldwin concert grand piano. He also played an electronic keyboard (forgive me, I don't remember which one). John Ferraro, the drummer, played the IMAC drum kit (Pearl). The bass player, Dean Taba, used both an electric bass and a 3/4 size upright string bass through his own amp into the IMAC bass cabinet (Hartke 4x10). John Ferraro, the guitarist used a pair of Roland JC-120's for his sound.
Zero Nylin, David's house engineer, brought a couple of his own tube d.i.'s to use on piano pickup (Barcus Berry) and bass. We also put a pair of AKG C-414's inside the piano. David only wanted to hear his piano and keyboard in his wedges (stereo pair). The rest of the band needed to hear David, as well as themselves. Monitor levels were outstandingly reasonable. This is probably the quietest the stage volume has been at IMAC in a long time. This makes it easier for both the monitor and the house engineers to do their jobs effectively. It certainly worked out that way in this case.
Sound check was relatively quick, then it turned into a brief rehearsal. We broke for dinner before the show.
David Benoit, while he may be best know for his "Linus and Lucy", is certainly a much more accomplished musician that that one little piece would indicate. His work has depth and breadth in a world where the term "jazz pianist" can mean "boring after a couple of songs." He has a remarkable range of composition and performance and he is extremely easy to listen to. It would have been a great show if it were just solo piano, but the superb musicians he brought with him added greatly to the experience.
Standing at the side of the stage mixing monitors allows me a unique view of the audience. The performers on stage usually have bright lights in their eyes which doesn't allow them to see the audience well. I saw an audience mesmerized by a performer. At the more mellow shows, it's not unusual to see an occasional audience member dozing off in their seats. Well, nobody was dozing at this show. People were entranced by this man's music. David presented himself to the audience as a genuine human being, something you don't often see at shows. His music came across the same way. He told stories between some of the songs, and was very gracious to the audience at the end of the shows.
He played 2 shows that night, and each was equally enjoyable. He did a good mix of his older numbers and his not yet released songs. He's got a new CD coming out shortly, which will be a pleasure to purchase. Based on his performance, I would highly recommend it.
I had a bit of a surprise for David after the first show. An old friend of his, Eddie Caccavale, was in the audience. I had invited Eddie and his lovely wife Karen to the show. I know Eddie because he is the drummer and musical director for Lainie Kazan, with whom I have worked extensively. David had also just finished doing the recording and producing of Lainie's latest CD. David was thrilled to see Ed and his wife, and they talked for quite a while between shows. I hope this made David's second visit to IMAC at least a little more pleasant.
If you don't have his music on CD, check it out below. Also, find out more about David Benoit by clicking here.
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