Berks Jazz Fest 2009: David Benoit / Warren Hill

Sunday afternoon, Smooth Jazz 92.7 gave us their second Listener Appreciation Day concerts with the double bill of David Benoit and Warren Hill which took place at the Crowne Plaza Reading Hotel Ballroom in front of a capacity crowd.

Pianist David Benoit played the grand piano and a little keyboards, he was accompanied by a stellar band featuring Jeff Kashiwa on sax, David Hughes on bass and Jamey Tate on drums. This concert was a breath of fresh air, David Benoit was in a relaxed mood, he played some songs from his Heroes CD, among them "Mountain Dance", "Human Nature" with a heartfelt solo by Jeff Kashiwa, and "Light My Fire". The band was grooving along, the tasteful playing of David Hughes and Jamey Tate never overpowering the piano of David Benoit, which yielded a really great musical experience allowing the music to breathe. It brought a dimension to the festival I had been missing so far. The nod to Dave Brubeck was "Blue Rondo A La Turk" with some great sax playing by Jeff Kashiwa, before they went through some of David Benoit's biggest hits like "Beat Street" and "Freedom At Midnight". This was a well rounded concert by a great artist, supported by a great band.

After that, Warren Hill and band were turning up the heat with their powerful performance. He opened the show with "Come Together", blowing us away with his great alto-sax playing. He was backed by a great band, among them Wayne Gerard on guitar. Another highlight was "Mambo 2000", a great latin track which was delivered with aplomb by all involved. He slowed down things in the middle of the concert, when he took the acoustic guitar and sang a gentle song dedicated to his daughter, showing a completely different musical side of his personality. After that, he played the beautiful "Still In Love", a song written for his wife. He also played a couple of songs on the soprano saxophone before it was time to give us his signature song, Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music" which had the crowd cheering along. As an encore, they played a great blues song that gave Wayne Gerard the opportunity to shine. This was a great concert by a consummate player.