Benoit JazzWorks perform Saturday at KCC

LIHU‘E — Husband and wife team Phil and Angela Benoit return to Kaua‘i Saturday with their Maui-based jazz group Benoit JazzWorks.

Presented by the Kaua‘i Concert Association, the Nov. 17 performance begins at 7 p.m. at the Kaua‘i Community College Performing Arts Center in Puhi.

Phil and Angela, who both hail from musical families, have been married 21 years and have been playing jazz professionally since 1997.

“These folks were actually a part of the jazz festival in 2011 and they’ve got an outstanding group,” Judy Arrigo of the KCA board said. “They do some very lovely jazz. It’s not far out. It’s not fusion. It’s jazz most people enjoy listening to.”

Phil was born in southern California and has been playing guitar since he was a teenager. He moved to Hawai‘i in 1978. Angela was born in Paia, Maui, and has been singing all her life.

“She (Angela) has no training as a vocalist, but natural ability,” Phil says. “We discovered what a talent she was back in the mid-1990s.”

Led by Angela’s smooth and sultry voice, Benoit JazzWorks brings a blend of jazz, bossa nova and samba.

“We’re a vocal-based melodic group,” Phil says. “It’s not bebop. We swing.”

Phil, the guitar-playing younger brother of renowned jazz pianist David Benoit, is a self-taught musician and has been studying and playing jazz guitar for the last decade after switching from more of a blues and rock sound in his earlier years.

Phil has performed on Kaua‘i twice before, first in 2008 with Gypsy Pacific, Maui’s first gypsy jazz quartet, and most recently with Angela at the 4th Annual Red Clay Jazz Festival in 2011. He said both experiences on the island were “excellent,” made even better by terrific audiences.

“Everyone treated us really, really well,” he said.

Saturday’s performance at KCC will focus more on piano and guitar, and less on horns, according to Phil. However, the show will feature local resident and Phil’s close friend, Steve Dubey, of Kapa‘a, on trumpet and harmonica.

“We’ll be playing some new music,” Phil said. “We’re just going to have some fun.”

Phil says his performance highlights over the years include playing with his brother David at the Maui Music Festival, Willie Nelson at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center and with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.

The Benoit’s first studio project “Watch What Happens” was recorded in 2001 at Emerald City Studios in Paia, Maui and released in 2003. It was nominated for the Na Hoku Hanohano Jazz Album of the Year. In 2005, Phil and Angela released their second album “A Man And A Woman,” which features both Phil’s brother David and their late father, Bob. Their most recent album, “Golden Sun,” was released in 2010 and nominated for the 2011 Na Hoku Hanohano Jazz Album of the Year.

When not playing music, Phil says he and Angela enjoy surfing and other ocean sports, as well as spending time at home.

“We’ve actually made a conscious decision to stay here in the state,” Phil said when asked about touring on the Mainland. “There are a lot of factors that make it not as desirable … we like working here and living here.”  

Tickets for Benoit JazzWorks’s Nov. 17 performance are $30 for adults and $10 for students. For more information or to purchase tickets visit or call 245-7464.

Future performances for the KCA’s 2012–13 season include Berklee College of Music Faculty Steelgrass Residency winner, plus El Mundo, the Hawai‘i Youth Symphony, Lea Salonga-Chien, the Afiara String Quartet and Dala.

• Chris D’Angelo, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 241) or


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