Today: Jul 16, 2024

Lyman Center kicks off fall jazz series with Richard Elliot and David Benoit Trio

Tamika Alexander – Arts and Entertainment Editor

Almost a full audience filled the auditorium of the John Lyman Center for the performing arts as Richard Elliot and the David Benoit Trio kicked off the first show at SCSU’s fall jazz series this past Saturday night. David Benoit, contemporary jazz pianist, opened the show with a piano playing that had the crowd cheering throughout his performances and set the tone for the remainder of the show.

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Richard Elliot’s album “Rock Steady” debuted at number 5 on the Billboard jazz charts.

One of the many compositions that Benoit played that many are familiar with is the Charlie Brown theme song.

Richard Elliot, saxophonist took the stage with an abundance of energy. With the lights flashing, he played his horn and rhythmically danced to show the audience what they could expect for the rest of the night. His fans immediately gave him a standing ovation.

“Thanks so much,” Elliot said. “I’m happy to be back in New Haven. It’s a beautiful venue. We love playing here.”

Inspired by well- known pioneers such as Grover Washington, Jr., Bob James and David Sanborn, he put out an album called “Rock Steady” he said. He performed the popular song, and the audience clapped and waved their arms to the music. To keep the crowd going, he played “Inner City Blues.”

“This is an old Marvin Gaye song,” he said. “The first time I heard it, it was actually an instrumental version by the late, great Grover Washington Jr. The first time I heard this song I was hooked.”

The fans got on their feet as the live instrumentation filled the room.

“We’re going to bring the funk tonight,” Elliot said. “Are you alright with that?”

Two-stepping and bopping back and forth on stage, Elliot and one of the bass guitarist went in for a section breakdown.

People from the audience yelled out “alright now” and “yeah” as the two musicians went back and forth.

To keep the momentum going, another bass guitarist did a solo, jumping into the crowd, running through the aisles and hopping back onto stage.

“Ok nap time. Just kidding,” said Elliot after his fellow band member completed his dynamic solo performance.

With so much expression and feeling, Elliot slowed down the night with a composition of “When a Man Loves a Woman.” He dropped to his knees, held long notes and rocked forward and backward, earning him a standing ovation from his fans.

“You stole the show, Richard,” came from an individual in the audience after that heart-felt performance.

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Five of David Benoit’s albums have been on the Billboard charts for Contemporary Jazz.

As he caught his breath the crowd continued to cheer and chant.

“Ok now it’s really nap time,” he said jokingly. He continued to joke with those in attendance.

“Did I mention our CDs are for sale outside,” he said as he and the audience laughed simultaneously.

The night carried on with songs transitioning from slow tempos to fast tempos, from one genre to the next, also going back to older musical compositions.

“We’re going to get real old school on you right now,” Elliot said. “Is that alright?”

Besides these Billboard chart-topping musicians, SCSU’s Lyman Center will be the main stage for other Jazz artists this fall such as Keiko Matsui, George Duke and Jonathan Butler.

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