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Benoit Re-Defines Busy In His Life

Of the Oakland Press

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With a seven-year-old daughter at home, David Benoit claims that “I actually don’t work as much as I used to.”

It’s hard to tell, however.

The pianist, composer and conductor — whose resume includes collaborations with Kenny Loggins, David Sanborn, Dave Koz, CeCe Winans and the theme for the TV soap opera “All My Children” — currently has a formidable list of projects he’s working on. Chief among them is his next album, “Heroes,” which is due out in early May, and features covers of personal favorites by the

Beatles, the Doors, Elton John, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck and others.

“‘Heroes’ is something I wanted to do for many years,” notes Benoit, 54, who also wrote an original, “A Twisted Little Etude,” as a tribute to Brubeck. “It’s basically songs by musicians all across the board who were very essential and influential to me growing up, and who I still love. It’s an interesting mix.

“By and large when I cover a song, I don’t like to reinvent it too much, especially if it’s a classic. I try to keep the boundaries of what the artist had in mind. Sometimes it irritates me when I hear (cover) songs that the artist has taken so far away that they’re taking a lot of the beauty out of it. I make the concsious decision to say close to the original.”

That’s just one item on Benoit’s plate, however. He’s been “practicing like a maniac” to join classical pianist Jon Nakamatsu for an upcoming piano duet on George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” Shortly after the release of “Heroes,” Benoit plans to premiere a new piece for Spanish guitar, “Delores del Carmen,” in June. Also on the horizon — a pair of performances with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and his annual Charlie Brown & Friends Christmas tour in December.

This is taking it easy?

“I really have cut back on road trips a bit. I have more family time now,” Benoit insists. “A lot of it is having good management. I never accept any offers until I run it by my manager. He’s a good buffer. Otherwise you get into trouble and just load yourself up. I used to do that a lot.”

David Benoit performs at 7 and 9 p.m. Friday (March 14), and 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday (March 15) at Arturo’s Jazz Theatre and Restaurant, 25333 W. Twelve Mile Road in the Star Theatre Complex, Southfield. Tickets are $27.50 for the early show and $22.50 for the late show. Call (248) 357-6009 or visit www.arturosjazz.com.

Web Site: www.arturosjazz.com

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