Smooth sounds for summer
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil () - March 12, 2010 - 12:00am

I recall a time when it was deemed cool to listen to the easy jazzy piano playing of David Benoit. Kids then said that it reminded them of cocktail party chatter by sophisticated folks or made them feel like sashaying across the streets of Makati as though they were on their way to work on Madison Avenue.

The definition of what is cool has already changed many times since. What is cool now wasn’t so a year ago. But I can honestly say that in this sweltering summer heat, David’s music still has the power to bring down the temperature to a breezy, bracing pace. 

David was once more in town for some Valentine shows. The Philippines seems to be a favorite destination and he has visited several times. Along with this recent event came the release of a new hit compilation. He already has several of those. But The Smooth Sound of David Benoit Then And Now is different from other tribute albums in the sense that it is made up of the tunes that Pinoys like.

The CD was put together by 106.7 Dream FM, the radio station known as Manila’s Smooth Jazz authority. They play a lot of Benoit out there. So you can bet that those guys in the radio station know what they are talking about when they say that this is Benoit’s smooth jazz album.

The well-remembered favorites, mostly from the ‘80s are all here. Guest artists abound in notable performances and there are also enough bit hit covers to stoke the interest of the indifferent listener. Among these are: The Key To You featuring David Pack of Ambrosia, Every Step Of The Way, Kei’s Song, Tropical Breeze, Freedom At Midnight, Stages, You Never Love Me The Same Way Twice and When She Believed In Me feat. Kenny Loggins.

And the instantly recognizable ones, with all the rough edges sanded off tenderly by the David touch are Human Nature, After The Love Has Gone feat. Phil Perry and Never Can Say Goodbye.

Now you know that there are only a few things that can be described as cooler or are just as cool as David. And another artist who fits the bill is Sergio Mendes. However, although both are easy listening icons Mendes made it big earlier during the ‘60s. No mean feat when you consider the competition at that time. And his expertise is Latin jazz. Mendes is great with innovation and can really dress up everything, including pop oddities in their samba best.

Find out how he does this in the compilation CD titled The Collection, which is now in the stores. Remember how some people thought then that Mendes was doing bossa albums like a Jobim rip-off? But they all changed their mind when what he was doing to hits like Jim Webb’s Wichita Lineman found its way into the mainstream charts.

Wichita Lineman is one of the cuts in this two-disc set made up of 39 of Mendes’ biggest sellers. Take it from me. I am sure that those of you out there who grew up during the three decades when he and various incarnations of his band Brasil ‘66 were actively recording will get a big thrill when you hear the familiar melodies played one after the other.

I know there are some complaints that this does not include the love ballads like The Look Of Love and So Many Stars or a recent seller like What Do We Mean To Each Other although Never Gonna Let You Go is included. What I noticed is that The Collection leans towards the hits with a jazzy Latin beat. So if you want the slower, romantic and more pop oriented tunes, I am sure that you will find them in other Sergio Mendes collections. 

Some of those that this one has are: Mas Que Nada, Day Tripper, Slow Hot Wind, The Fool On The Hill, What The World Needs Now Is Love, (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of Bay, Constant Rain, Empty Faces, For Me, Pretty World, Night And Day, Norwegian Wood, With A Little Help From My Friends, Masquerade, Chelsea Morning, The Frog, Batucada, For What It’s Worth, Scarborough Fair, Zanzibar, After Midnight, Rainbow’s End, Alibis, After Sunrise, Flower Of Bahia, Corcovado, Your Smile and Puzzle Of Hearts.

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