David Benoit & Russ Freeman – The Benoit/Freeman Project

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The Benoit/Freeman Project is an album by American pianist David Benoit and American guitarist Russ Freeman that was released in 1994 and recorded for the GRP label. The album reached No. 2 on the jazz chart at Billboard magazine. Freeman is the founder and leader of the Rippingtons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Benoit/Freeman_Project).

AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran:
The Benoit/Freeman project is a reunion of sorts, as both smooth jazz icons worked on 1986’s landmark Rippingtons debut Moonlighting and together wrote Benoit’s hit “Every Step of the Way.” Since then, Freeman’s career with that band and Benoit’s as a solo artist spearheaded the smooth jazz movement while expanding the rules on just what modern jazz is. The new project combines the radio-friendly pleasures inherent in their separate endeavors with an exciting expansion and interplay of fresh and innovative ideas. Though the focus is clearly on the interplay between guitar and piano, the two are surrounded by all-star backing talent like Nathan East, Abe Laboriel, John Robinson, and former Rippingtons members Steve Reid and Tony Morales. Much attention was directed to Kenny Loggins’ wonderful vocal performance of “When She Believed in Me,” but the Phil Perry sung version of “After the Love Is Gone” is superfluous; it’s beautiful but adds nothing to the original Earth, Wind & Fire arrangement. Instrumental highlights include “Mediterranean Nights” (a seven-minute meditation featuring symphonic elements and Freeman’s rich electric guitar work), the percussive “Swept Away,” moody “The End of Our Season,” and a remake of “Mirage,” one of Moonlighting’s most beautiful tunes. The two seem to have been too busy for a follow-up, but smooth jazz could definitely benefit from another tandem brainstorm like this (https://www.allmusic.com/album/the-benoit-freeman-project-mw0000111416).

Track listing:
Reunion (Freeman) – 5:06
When She Believed in Me (Kenny Loggins/Benoit/Freeman) – 5:25
Mediterranean Nights (Benoit/Freeman) – 6:57
Swept Away (Benoit/Freeman) – 4:55
The End of Our Season (Benoit/Freeman) – 4:16
After the Love Has Gone (David Foster/Jay Graydon/Bill Champlin) – 4:18
Smartypants (Benoit/Freeman) – 5:42
It’s the Thought that Counts (Benoit) – 6:02
Mirage (Freeman) – 5:59
That’s All I Could Say (Benoit/Freeman) – 3:17

Personnel:
David Benoit – piano
Russ Freeman – guitar, synthesizer
Gary Grant – trumpet
Jerry Hey – flugelhorn, trumpet
Dan Higgins – saxophone
Nathan East – bass
Abraham Laboriel – bass
Mike Baird – drums
John Robinson – drums
Tony Morales – drums
Steve Reid – percussion
Kenny Loggins – vocals
Phil Perry – vocals
Vesta Williams – vocals

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Released: 1994
Recorded: 1994
Studio Cheyenne Mountain Ranch Studios, Colorado; Ocean Way Recording, Los Angeles
Length: 51:57
Label: GRP
Producer: Russ Freeman, David Benoit

 

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