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George Benson: Finding His Groove In Inspiration

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George Benson is a quintessential master of jazz whose professional musical career continues to flourish over decades due to his charisma, wit, showmanship and a succession of multiple hit record releases that are foundational in the evolution of contemporary jazz. As a seasoned jazz connoisseur, Benson stays in demand as a sought after performing artist as seen in his steady concert schedules taking to the stage in countries around the world. Simply put, Benson is on a mission to keep jazz current through his innate talent to innovate the sound of jazz both in studio and in the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Benson: Inspiration: A Tribute To Nat King Cole

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Million-selling, hugely popular and readily recognisable jazz artists are a bit thin on the ground these days. So when one such giant records a tribute to another it's something of an event. George Benson's Inspiration: A Tribute To Nat King Cole certainly falls into that category: an album of songs from one of the biggest stars of the twentieth century, performed with due respect by one of the biggest names in the contemporary jazz scene.The album's opener, “Mona Lisa," is credited to “Little Georgie Benson" and features the 8-year-old future star on vocals and ukulele--an indication of how ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Benson: Guitar Man

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At some point George Benson morphed from a guitarist who occasionally sang into a singer who occasionally played guitar. Benson's Breezin' (Warner Bros, 1976) launched his career trajectory to new heights based upon “This Masquerade," his only vocal turn on the album.But oh, what a vocal “This Masquerade" was. It propelled Breezin' to Number One on the pop charts and the album won multiple Grammys, including Record of the Year, and his recording formula was set for the next 20 years. The follow-up, In Flight (Warner Bros, 1977) featured Benson's soulful tenor vocals on four of the six ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Benson: Body Talk

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With a title like Body Talk, and a lead-off track called “Dance," George Benson--a guitar-god-on-the-rise when this album originally hit shelves in 1973--makes it clear that this music is all about feeling the groove. While a good number of Benson projects on CTI benefited from Don Sebesky's arrangements, the guitarist needed a funkier feeling for this album, and Pee Wee Ellis was just the man to provide it. Ellis helped to create the sound that defined the music of James Brown in the late '60s, becoming an important presence as an arranger on Creed Taylor's Kudu imprint, making him the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Benson: Beyond The Blue Horizon

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George Benson has worn many hats throughout his career, from jazz-pop vocal star to soulful six-stringer, but his guitar god persona is probably exhibited best by Beyond The Blue Horizon (CTI, 1971). This album arrived five full years before Benson's popularity would explode with Breezin' (Warner Bros., 1976), and it presents this powerful instrumental presence in a no-nonsense, small group setting. Benson worked briefly with the great Miles Davis, as a guest on Miles In The Sky (Columbia, 1968), and he opens this album by nodding to the trumpeter with an updated take on his “So What." ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

George Benson: White Rabbit

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After three late-1960s A&M albums with mastermind Creed Taylor prior to the creation of CTI Records, guitarist George Benson hit 1971 running with two CTI debuts, issued a few months apart. Beyond the Blue Horizon was closer, in complexion, to his A&M recordings--harkening back, even, to his impressive 1966 Columbia Records two-punch, It's Uptown and The George Benson Cookbook--although the virtuosic, soul- drenched guitarist was clearly evolving as a player and maturing into one whose firebrand, virtuosic tendencies were becoming refreshingly balanced with greater maturity and restraint. White Rabbit was (and remains) an anomaly in Benson's prodigious ...

INTERVIEWS

George Benson: From Chitlins to Chateaubriand to Caviar

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In the summer of 2004 guitarist George Benson sat down unnoticed at the Baton Rouge Bar in Montreal and asked for a margarita. The Baton Rouge is a great restaurant haven for jazz goers and musicians attending the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, aka The Montreal Jazz Festival. It just so happened that, as my family and I sat down at the bar for an afternoon brunch, I looked over to my left and recognized Benson as the gentleman ordering a drink.

Benson was there to play at Place des Arts' Salle Wilfred Pelletiere, and ...



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