Ten years ago the team of David Benoit and Russ Freeman created a CD that mixed peaceful piano playing and beautiful arrangements with guitar sounds so perfect it was thought to never be duplicated… or exceeded. Now, a decade later, this team has proven us wrong. The Benoit/Freeman Project 2 has a sound that shows the diversity of both of these undeniably gifted musicians.
The CD possesses a Latin flavor, a few funky tunes, a small symphony, and one vocal that catches you totally by surprise. The opening track and first released single, "Palmetto Park,"
provides a musical banter between piano and guitar that leaves you humming the tune for hours following. The Latin flare comes through in several songs. "Via Nueve," contains a vintage Benoit sound, complete with the string section and Peter Erskine on drums. "Montecito" features David Pack on just enough vocals to make you want to sing along, and is upbeat and lively. Russ Freeman’s guitar is also quite playful. "Club Havana," gives you the feel of sand, sun and dance. With Chris Botti lending his talented trumpet, this track takes you to a far away place. And "Samba," another tune that gets you on your feet and swaying, contains the classic sound of Benoit and Freeman. Each of these tracks showcase the energetic guitar of Russ Freeman and offer the listeners a chance to lose themselves in the music.
The surprise track on this CD is a vocal with none other than country crooner Vince Gill. "Two Survivors" is just simply a beautiful song. Gill’s voice is never overshadowed by guitar or by the violin section. It is an old-time ballad arranged in its purest sense, with the understated piano leading the way. It has a wonderful guitar solo by Freeman that offers a peaceful feeling.
"Moon Through the Window" is a blend of Freeman’s soft, yet crisp guitar, and the classic melodies always provided by the light touch of Benoit’s piano. This tune paints a perfect picture of a full moon on a clear night. From the sweetness of one song, we go right into the completely funky "Struttin'" filled with the muted trumpet of Botti. Once again, Chris adds a groove to an already pumped up track. "Stiletto Heels" has a very urban sound to it. Both Benoit and Freeman have an edge to their playing which starts out slow and builds toward a great piano solo that grabs you into the track.
The final track, "Waiting for the Stars to Fall," is almost lullaby-like. Its cool, composed melody makes me feel as if the players are comfortable with themselves. If they are waiting for the stars to fall, it won’t be happening anytime soon. This CD clearly reminds us of the talent that David Benoit and Russ Freeman each have individually, and excite us with their combined compositions. This is a partnership that we hope continues, just sooner than every ten years!