Groove Time Reviews

Denis Poole

If you know the LA jazz scene then chances are you know Bennett Brandeis. Whether as part of the re-formed 5th Dimension's touring band or working in studio orchestras such as that at Universal for the television show Magnum P.I., this fine guitarist is all about the groove so it is no surprise that his latest release is the appropriately titled 'Groove Time'. Produced by multi Grammy winning Paul Brown, and with the likes of Ricky Lawson, Greg Adams, Roberto Vally, Marco Basci, Elan Trotman and Darren Rahn around to lend a hand, this is an album that has come out of no-where to be rightly regarded as among the best of the year so far.

In fact 'Groove Time' is the fourth solo project from Brandeis (aka Bennett B) and follows his debut CD, 'Jazz Guitar' (that he recorded as a trio with Joe LaBarbera on drums and Dave Carpenter on bass). The follow-up, 'The View From Above', came along in 2006 but it was with his third offering, 'Storytelling', that he began to lean toward a more contemporary jazz approach. Now, with 'Groove Time', Bennett is positioning himself for genuine smooth jazz stardom.

In the main the recording is characterized by rhythm and melody, all delivered in an exquisitely subtle wrapper that provides a timely reminder of how all-consuming west coast smooth jazz can be when done this well.

A case in point is the fabulously sophisticated 'Slipstream' that has something of a Fourplay feel to it and for which Basci's interjections on keys are sublime. In common with the entire album, Brown's production touches are all over it and much the same can be said of the easy grooving 'Now And Again' where Bennett's nylon string guitar dovetails to perfection with Brown's distinctive electric sound.

The deliciously mid tempo 'Show Your Love' benefits from the sax of Elan Trotman and when Trotman returns to play his part on 'Between Rivers' he helps deliver what in every respect is a soothing Latin charmer. Elsewhere, when sax-man Darren Rahn steps up for 'Get On Up!' his horn arrangements add to the funky quality of this zesty number and although “beauty personified” would be an apt way to describe the spine tingling 'When I Look In Your Eyes', it is with the splendidly hard driving title cut that Bennett again lifts the tempo.

The relaxed yet compelling 'In My Mind' proves to be a sensational way in which to close out the collection and another track that is right up there with the best that 'Groove Time' has to offer is the ultra cool 'Above The Clouds' where Jervonny Collier holds it down on bass and Greg Adams wows on flugelhorn like only he can.

However, all things considered, the accolade of Smooth Jazz Therapy Top Tune goes to the scintillating 'Tell Me About It'. Not only is it currently tearing up the Amazon smooth jazz charts but is also a complete shoo-in for my top twenty of 2014.

Veteran Hollywood session guitarist and contemporary jazz artist with three previous albums under his belt, Bennett B declares that it's GROOVE TIME on his explosive fourth full length project. Produced by multi-Grammy winning artist Paul Brown, the ten track set has splashes of sizzling brass, a sprinkling of Blues, a lot of Funk and simmering old school keyboard textures.

Guests include Greg Adams, and Ricky Lawson in one of his last recordings. The single "Tell Me About It" is mid tempo, in the pocket cool all the way - the perfect showcase for Bennett's expressive electric guitar excitement. The title says it all - GROOVE TIME grooves! ~ Jonathan Widran,

The American Bennett Brandeis started playing guitar at the age of six, played later the clarinet in the school band, but returned to the guitar at the age of fifteen. He studied at the Groove School of Music in L.A., where he learned harmony, music theory, arranging, composition etc.. After that, he went to the Berklee College of Music, where he graduated with honours.

While he was working in the Universal studio for the TV series 'Magnum P.I.', he got an offer to join the Japanese group Shonentai. He accepted, moved to Japan and toured throughout South-eastern Asia. Back in L.A., Marilyn McCoo requested him to perform with the Original 5th Dimension.

He released yet 3 albums on his own Baton Records label, and this is the fourth, in a production by Paul Brown. It contains 10 original songs. He opens with 'Tell Me About It' in a mid-tempo, while the late Ricky Lawson played the drums on this single. 'Slipstream' is a relaxed track, while on the joyful 'Show Your Love', Elan Trotman can be heard on sax. 'Get On Up!' refers maybe to James Brown, and is a nice "feel good" song, with Darren Rahn on the horn.

The ballade 'When I Look In Your Eyes' is romantic and sensitive, followed by the relaxed 'Now and Again', on which Paul Brown plays his electric guitar. 'Between Rivers' is a duet between Bennett's guitar and Elan Trotman's sax. Next up is the quiet 'Above the Clouds' with Greg Adams. The lovely title track comes in Paul Brown's style, and Bennett take his leave with the sensitive 'In My Mind'. Although Paul Brown clearly put his mark on this album, Bennett stays his own man.

Highly recommended! Upbeat and sensitive, this is welcome discovery! ~ Payrick Van de Weile,

Berklee graduated guitarist Bennett Brandeis has performed in the past with the Japanese group Shonentai, and the reunited Original 5th Dimension. He started his solo career with the album Jazz Guitar (1995), followed by The View From Above (2001), Storytelling (2006) and this year Groove Time.

The new album is produced by guitarist Paul Brown, who also performs on selected tracks. Bennett is joined in addition by Greg Adams, Elan Trotman, Ricky Lawson, Darren Rahn and many more. The mid tempo Tell Me About It opens up the dance. Bennett's affinity for guitar chords reminds me of George Benson's Ibanez style.

The guitar jam stretches out to Slipstream, where the guitar meets flute in a lovely musical surrounding. Sax and guitar is a popular combination. On Show Your Love Elan Trotman gives the right answers on tenor sax.

The James Brown exclamation Get On Up! specifically implies to get up on the dance floor. A simple meaning we certainly follow in view of this encouraging melody. The heartfelt ballade When I Look In Your Eyes is made for all lovers in the world. Charming! The lilting Now And Again is a nice starter for the Sunday morning. Paul Brown and Bennett join to a fabulous guitar duet.

The subtle piece Between Rivers Elan Trotman features on the soprano sax. The type of guitar processing speaks for the romantic feel of the ballad. With Above The Clouds Bennett tends to higher spheres, although the melody remains accessible. The title song has that uplifting attitude we know by Paul Brown. Bennett adds his signature style and gives the song an own character. With In My Mind Bennett succeeds a sensitive final, touching in its depth.

For lovers of smooth jazz with the guitar in focus, Bennett B's Groove Time is of particular appeal. The fact that Paul Brown has contributed to this album, is in the light of Bennett's wonderful guitar playing of minor importance. ~

Press Kit