George Benson: Irreplaceable (2004)
The title is ironic now, since this CD was originally to be a collection of all vocal tracks, but the singer/guitarist dropped three songs on the early version and included two songs produced by Paul Brown, "Arizona Sunrise" and "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," the latter of which is quickly climbing the smooth jazz charts. Also added was "Take You Out," an instrumental cover of a Luther Vandross song produced by Rex Rideout and Bud Harner that's also included on an upcoming tribute CD called For Ever, For Always, For Luther. The three instrumentals show why Benson, at 61, remains the most copied contemporary jazz guitarist of his generation. The three instrumental songs are that good.
For the rest of the album's seven vocal tracks, Benson worked with songwriter-producer Joshua Thompson, who has collaborated with such R&B mega-stars as Joe, Alicia Keys, Babyface and Aretha Franklin. There's nothing wrong with these songs, which include "Cell Phone," "Black Rose," "Six Play" and "Missing You." After all, Benson's had some of his biggest hits with vocal songs such as "Turn Your Love Around," "Give Me the Night" and "This Masquerade." And, really, the vocal songs are pretty darn good. In fact, Irreplaceable may the kind of CD that gets Benson airplay on several music charts.
Bottom line: If you're looking for a classic smooth jazz CD by Benson, it may be better to check out the three instrumental songs. But if you're a fan of both Bensonsthe guitarist and the singer Irreplaceable is a good choice for your player.
Track Listing: 1. Irreplaceable, 2. Cell Phone, 3. Black Rose, 4. Take You Out, 5. Strings Of Love, 6. Missing You, 7. Six Play, 8. Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise, 9. Stairway To Love, 10. Arizona Sunrise
Personnel: George Benson (vocals, electric guitar); Chyna, Nakiea (vocals); Joshua P. Thompson (acoustic guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, bass instrument, programming); Rex Rideout (keyboards, programming); Herman Jackson, Bobby Douglas (keyboards); Richard Bona (bass instrument, background vocals); Roberto Vally (bass instrument); Paulinho Da Costa (percussion)