Pianist, composer and producer David Benoit started his career as musical director for singer Lainie Kazan in 1976. Over the years, he has worked with a lot of vocalists, like Patti Austin, Kenny Loggins, Kenny Rankin, Brian McKnight, or Connie Stevens.
So when the time came to make a new album, he suggested to do a vocal album with all new material. The lyrics to his new songs were written by three vocalists who also have recorded several great albums over the years: Lorraine Feather, Mark Winkler, and Spencer Day. And the vocalist for the eight tracks (two are instrumemtals) are by Jane Monheit. The Latin-inflected “Barcelona Nights” (words by Lorraine Feather) starts the album elegantly and with subdued percussion. The other Feather track, “Too In Love”, is where Jane really shines, switching keys easily and letting it loose in the bridge. David also has a solid solo spot on this one.
Four tracks were written by the great Mark Winkler, himself a wonderful vocalist (check out his recent “West Coast Cool” album with singer Cheryl Bentyne and the production on Joanne Tatham‘s album “Out Of My Dreams”). “This Dance” could be right out of a soundtrack of a blockbuster movie. The lush production and tricky arrangement really suit Jane well – she should opt for doing more original work in the future. The piece is classic Benoit material, reminding me of some of his better GRP albums of the late 80s/early 90s. It’S the album’s highlight.
On “Dragonfly”, David uses John Clayton on bass and Clayton Cameron on drums as well as a violin and cello. It’s a beautiful little ballad coming out of the Country book. Jane falls back to her too compressed style on the ballad “The Songs We Sang” (Barbra Streisand material). And “Something’s Gotta Give”, also using the same personnel, is like the theme song to a Disney Broadway musical. Pretty slick and opulent.
Two songs are by young singer and composer Spencer Day, who has released five brilliant albums so far (check out his very strong “Vagabond” from 2009): “Love Will Light The Way” and “Fly Away” both are skillful, almost too perfect pop songs with a strong dose of melancholy and the latter with even more of those cinematic treats.
Two instrumentals, the light and breezy “Love In Hyde Park” and the classical solo “Love Theme From Candide/Send In The Clowns” round out this new Concord Music Group release.