Jazz Weekly: Richard Bennett: Ballads in Otherness

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George W. Harris

January 21, 2019

While making a successful living as the first call guitarist for the likes of Mark Knopfler and Neil Diamond, Richard Bennett has also quietly amassed an impressive catalogue of his own. Classy and understated, his albums are reminiscent of the days when instrumental bands such as The Ventures, The Shadows, Santo and Johnny or Johnny and the Hurricane’s ruled the airwaves in the 50s and 60s. His latest release is a glowing gem, as he calls up his friends on his iphone for a polished and classy read of originals. Bennet plays guitar and steel, adroitly mixing and matching with a string section as well as Roger Spencer/b, Ted Tretiak/dr, Nick Bennett-Andy Reiss/g, spooner Oldham/B3, Lindsay Bennett/p-key, Charlie McCoy/vib, a handful of horns, strings and even VOX.

His guitar voice and style evokes the lyricism of Johnny Smith, as on the warm “No Matter The Odds” and relaxed “This Love Remembered” while he hiply swings on a jazzy “Intermezzo.” Hints of the Everly Brothers are strummed during “Come Summer’s Sun,” Roy Orbison’d nostalgia with horns create a gently dramatic “Dauphine Noir,” and some Duane Eddy twang rockabillies for “Eye For Hire.” Piano and ethereal voice make for a pastoral “Pretty Pillow” with Bennett taking you to the local VFW on the rural “Waltz For A Wayard.” Obviously, he knows how to boogie the blues, and gets juke jointy for “”Bo-Kay,” but for the most  part, Bennet takes you to the local lounge of second sets of the night, as on the relaxed “This Side of Truth.” Charming in its gorgeous and elegant simplicity-the more you listen the more you appreciate it. Any chance for So Cal gigs with this band on a night off from Knopfler?

Nicholas Bennett