David Benoit (musician)

David Bryan Benoit (born August 18, 1953) is an American jazz pianist, composer and producer, based in Los Angeles, California, United States. Benoit has charted over 25 albums since 1980, and has been nominated for three Grammy Awards.[1] He is also music director for the Pacific Vision Youth Symphony (previously known as the Asia America Symphony Orchestra) and the Asia America Youth Orchestra. Furthermore, crediting Vince Guaraldi as an inspiration, Benoit has participated both as performer and music director for the later animated adaptations of the Peanuts comic strip, such as the feature film, The Peanuts Movie, restoring Guaraldi's musical signature to the franchise.

David Benoit
David Benoit performing at Jazz Alley on March 16, 2007
David Benoit performing at Jazz Alley on March 16, 2007
Background information
Birth nameDavid Bryan Benoit
Born (1953-08-18) August 18, 1953 (age 69)
Bakersfield, California, U.S.
GenresJazz, smooth jazz, easy listening
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, producer
Years active1976–present
LabelsAVI, GRP, Peak

Early lifeEdit

David Bryan Benoit was born in Bakersfield, California, on August 18, 1953.[2][3] He studied piano at age 13 with Marya Cressy Wright and continued his training with Abraham Fraser, who was the pianist for Arturo Toscanini. He attended Mira Costa High School.[4] He focused on theory and composition at El Camino College, studying orchestration with Donald Nelligan, and later took film scoring classes taught by Donald Ray at UCLA. His education in music conducting began with Heiichiro Ohyama, assistant conductor of the L.A. Philharmonic, and continued with Jan Robertson, head of the conducting department at UCLA. He worked with Jeffrey Schindler, Music Director for the UC Santa Barbara symphony orchestra.


He began his career as a musical director and conductor for Lainie Kazan in 1976, before moving on to similar roles with singer/actresses Ann-Margret and Connie Stevens.

His GRP Records debut album, Freedom at Midnight (1987), made it to number 5 on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.[5] Benoit also says that it was his favorite album to produce, because it was when "everything came together," as he stated in an interview on SmoothViews.com. An earlier "live in the studio" (direct record, no mixing or overdubs) album on Spindletop Records, This Side Up (previously 1986), was re-released on the GRP label.

Waiting for Spring (1989) made it to number 1 on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart.[5] Shadows, from 1991, made it to number 2 on the Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.[5]

Out of respect for one of his main influences, Bill Evans, he dedicated his 1992 album Letter to Evan to him.[6]

Many of his songs employ a string section, most notably on his American Landscape (1997) and Orchestral Stories (2005) albums.

In 2000, after the death of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, he released a memorial album entitled Here's to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years. Collaborators included the chorus group Take 6, guitarist Marc Antoine and trumpeter Chris Botti. He also did the music for "Peanuts" in the later specials, after Vince Guaraldi's death. The album made it to number 2 on the Top Jazz Albums chart.[5] An earlier cover of Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy", recorded in 1985 for the aforementioned album This Side Up, enjoyed notable radio airplay and helped to launch the smooth jazz genre.

Benoit has arranged, conducted, and performed music for many popular pop and jazz artists, including Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons (he was involved with the band in its formative stages, and they often appeared on each other's albums), Kenny Loggins, Michael Franks, Patti Austin, Dave Koz, Kenny Rankin, Faith Hill, David Lanz, Cece Winans, David Pack, David Sanborn, The Walt Disney Company and Brian McKnight. He paid homage to one of his chief influences, Leonard Bernstein, by playing, arranging, and performing on The Songs of West Side Story, an all-star project produced by David Pack which achieved gold sales status. Benoit contributed to the Rippingtons's debut album, Moonlighting, which was named the most influential contemporary jazz album of all time by Jazziz magazine.[7]

The Benoit/Freeman Project album was given 412 stars by AllMusic, the highest rating Benoit has received from the service, and the album made it to number 2 on the Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart from Billboard.[5][8]

Benoit's music can be heard during The Weather Channel's "Local on the 8s" segments. His version of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" by Vince Guaraldi is included on the album The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II (2008). In May 2011, Benoit began hosting a morning program at jazz radio station KKJZ in Long Beach, California.[9]

Benoit has performed at the White House for three U.S. Presidents: Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush Sr. Other dignitaries he performed for include Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, former Los Angeles mayors Tom Bradley and James Hahn, as well as Senator Dick Durbin.

Awards and honorsEdit


As leaderEdit

Year Title Label Notes
1977 Heavier Than Yesterday AVI/Blue Moon
1980 Can You Imagine AVI/Blue Moon
1982 Stages AVI/Blue Moon
1983 Digits AVI/Blue Moon
1983 Christmastime AVI/Blue Moon
1984 Waves of Raves AVI/Blue Moon
1985 This Side Up Spindletop/En Pointe
1986 Summer Electric Bird
1987 Freedom at Midnight GRP
1988 Every Step of the Way GRP
1989 Urban Daydreams GRP
1989 Waiting for Spring GRP
1990 Inner Motion GRP
1991 Shadows GRP
1992 Letter to Evan GRP
1994 Shaken Not Stirred GRP
1994 The Benoit/Freeman Project GRP with Russ Freeman
1995 The Stars Fell on Henrietta Varèse Sarabande soundtrack
1996 Remembering Christmas GRP
1997 American Landscape GRP
1999 Professional Dreamer GRP
2000 Great Composers of Jazz Vertical Jazz/Fine Tune
2000 Here's to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years! GRP
2002 Fuzzy Logic GRP
2003 Right Here, Right Now GRP/Universal/Verve
2004 The Benoit/Freeman Project 2 Peak with Russ Freeman
2005 Orchestral Stories Peak/Universal
2005 40 Years: A Charlie Brown Christmas Concord/Peak
2006 Full Circle Concord/Peak
2006 Standards Kind of Blue Brian Bromberg and Gregg Bissonette
2008 Heroes Concord/Peak
2008 Jazz for Peanuts Concord/Peak
2010 Earthglow Concord/Heads Up/Peak
2012 Conversation Heads Up
2015 2 in Love Concord with Jane Monheit
2015 Believe Concord David Benoit Trio, f. Jane Monheit & All American Boys Chorus
2017 The Steinway Sessions Steinway
2017 So Nice Shanachie with Marc Antoine
2019 David Benoit and Friends Shanachie
2020 It's a David Benoit Christmas! Steinway
2022 A Midnight Rendezvous Shanachie

As sidemanEdit


  1. ^ [1] Archived January 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Gilbert, Mark (2002). Kernfeld, Barry (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. Vol. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 191. ISBN 1-56159-284-6.
  3. ^ Yanow, Scott. "David Benoit". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Hall Of Fame | Mira Costa High School Alumni". miracostaalumni.com. 11 October 2019. Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  5. ^ a b c d e David Benoit. - Charts & Awards: Billboard Albums. - AllMusic. - Retrieved: 2008-07-20
  6. ^ Josef Woodard (April 8, 1993). "Dont Worry, Play Happy Jazz : David Benoit is sure to draw heavily on his latest album, 'Letter to Evan,' when he performs in Ventura on Saturday". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ "David Benoit Biography". Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. Retrieved 2008-08-11.
  8. ^ David Benoit. - Discography: Main Albums. - Allmusic. - Retrieved: 2008-07-20
  9. ^ "Pianist David Benoit to host morning show at jazz station KKJZ-FM". Los Angeles Times. 27 April 2011.

External linksEdit