Review – David Benoit & Marc Antoine New Album So Nice!

What do you get when you have two veteran musicians that have their unique individual styles, but who can also come together as they blend perfectly to create something out of the ordinary?

David Benoit & Marc Antoine have a new collaboration. The album is titled, So Nice!  If you like Bossa Nova-inspired creations, then this is for you.

David Benoit has been in the game for 40 years, and he has not slowed down one bit!  In addition to his solo work, Benoit has worked with artists as diverse as the Rippingtons, and Faith Hill to David Sanborn and CeCe Winans.  Benoit wanted to become a jazz artist at an early age, after hearing the music from a Charlie Brown special.   “I was already a fan of the comic strip,” he says, “but when I heard that jazz piano trio, that was the defining moment when I decided that I wanted to play like Vince Guaraldi.”

In case you forgot about that music from way back, here is Linus and Lucy from Benoit:

It also appears in our Smooth Jazz Series.  It is still one of my favorites. In addition to the 40+ albums he has recorded, Benoit has also diversified his talents.  Benoit’s film scores include The Stars Fell on Henrietta (1995), produced by Clint Eastwood, and The Christmas Tree, produced by Sally Field, which was voted Best Score of 1996 by Film Score Monthly. He has served as conductor with a wide range of symphonies including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Asia America Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Marc Antoine was born in France, but he also lived in London and Tokyo, as well as the United States.  He has also played with some diverse artists.  They include Basia, Soul II Soul, George Benson and Sting.

With experience like that, you know a collaboration would be So Nice!

As I mentioned earlier, this album is a collection of Bossa Nova and Brazilian rhythms, and the results seem to be a winner.

Review – David Benoit & Marc Antoine New Album So Nice!

The album starts with French Cafe, and you know this is in Antoine’s wheelhouse.  That guitar just flows over the smooth rhythm.  Benoit keeps up masterfully on piano here.  This is another one of those visual songs where I can actually picture myself sipping some coffee on the Rue de la Paix.  If I cannot go to France, then Cafe Du Monde will do.

Penthouse in Copacabana is up next, and is is a smoothed out affair, and it features Benoit as he tickles the keys throughout.

Só Danço Samba is a standard that was reimagined by the duo. The track was written in 1962 by Antônio Carlos Jobim, with lyrics by Vinícius de Moraes.  This version is an instrumental, and they have made the song current once again.

Up next is Caminando.  This is one of those jazz club standards.  If you go to any jazz club on the planet, you should not be surprised to hear a song like this, or something similar.  I was immediately drawn to the drums, played so effortlessly by John “JR” Robinson (Daft Punk, Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan).

A Cafe Au Lait Bentley is next, and this a track where Benoit and Antoine take turns and just slay it.  The tempo slows a little with All Said and Done.  In addition to piano and guitar, the bass takes center stage.  Ken Wild (Barbra Streisand, Al Jarreau, Gloria Estefan) shows off his talents on the track.

The album continues with Rio Deluxe.  Of course it has a Brazilian vibe, and Antoine shines once again on the track.

Puma Trail is next, and it is a slow groove with a mid-tempo feel.  The song is hard to describe, but it is definitely one you will enjoy.  The title track, So Nice, is up next, and it is another standard that has been around since 1964.  The Walter Wanderley Trio first popularized it in 1966, and artists such as Sergio Mendes and Andy Williams have recorded the classic.  In this version, all of the musicians stand out, including percussionist Luis Conte (Phil Collins, Pat Metheny, James Taylor).

The set closes with Algarve, and Antoine plays his guitar with an extended intro.  Benoit later chimes in for his part, and this is one of those “unplugged” type tracks that gives the album a fitting end.

I am sure you will agree that this effort is indeed So Nice! and it will be a welcomed addition to your regular playlist.

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