In October 2008, David Benoit took a much needed breather from the frenetic pace of life in Los Angeles and headed up to the mountains near Saratoga to become an artist in residence at Villa Montalvo. Finding peaceful solitude and discovering fresh inspiration in a small cabin near the non-profit Montalvo Arts Center, the five time GRAMMY® nominated veteran composer and pianist—one of contemporary jazz’s most acclaimed artists for over two decades—wrote “Botswana Bossa Nova” and “Will’s Chill,” two unique pieces unlike any he had done before. These became the foundation for the overall global music concept behind Benoit’s stirring and provocative new CD Earthglow, his first set of original material in four years. The title track was inspired by the stunning NASA photo of our planet which graces the cover.
In an age where many listeners prefer the instant gratification of purchasing individual tracks on iTunes, Benoit takes the bold step of writing good old fashioned liner notes to explain the way the eclectic 11-track collection developed. After mentioning that the great Will.i.am from Black Eyed Peas was an influence on “Will’s Chill,” the multi-talented performer says, “I was interested in experimenting with some of the new ‘jazz-lounge-Euro-chill’ music I was hearing at upscale boutique hotels and chic Japanese sake bars.”
Focusing on the high energy hybrid of old school soul-jazz and infectious world beat textures and rhythms of “Botswana Bossa Nova,” he adds, “I loved the world mix of exotic ethnic percussion, African voices along with Brazilian beats. With the aid of the computer sequencing program Logic Pro I came up with some of these new ideas. To give the instruments a more realistic sound, I played everything in real time as opposed to step timing. Months later, with the same format, I came up with ‘Straightaway,’ ‘Unbelievable,’ ‘New Creation’ and ‘Sneaky As A Cat’ at my home studio in Palos Verdes, California.”
Benoit credits Clark Germain, his longtime engineer and co-producer on Earthglow, with reining in his off the beaten path impulses and blending them with the identifiable sound that mark his repertoire of over 30 recordings since the late ‘70s. “I really loved the vibe of ‘Will’s Chill,’” he says, “and when I started recording, I wanted the whole album to have that edgy, chill sound, with long loops and lots of samples, with a little piano in the mix. For obvious and very good reasons, Clark brought me back to myself and took these new, exciting ideas I had and put them in perspective as part of a recognizable David Benoit record. It’s got a lot of energy, but he smoothed it out and kept me in check. I think the intimacy of writing and recording in house, so to speak, without outside writers and producers as I had done in recent years, ensured that every note I intended actually appears on the album. Everyone involved had a blast recording Earthglow and exploring this new territory.”