Some tunes are so sacred that any attempt to cover them can only result in failure. Yet George Benson makes this mistake twice on Bad Benson ; the band can’t quite manage a groove in 5/4 on Brubeck’s “Take Five” and once again falter with a horrid disco version of Ellington’s “Take The ‘A’ Train” complete with fake train whistles. Creed Taylor should have offered rebates to anyone that could listen to these numbers more than once without wincing. However, the rest of the album is pretty good; Benson has always been an excellent guitarist, and there’s little here of the full-blown pop artist he would later become. The full band numbers are worthwhile compositions; in particular on “My Latin Brother”, where Benson creates a memorable tune based on a repeating five note phrase and shifting rhythms. Even Don Sebesky’s arrangements, which tend to clutter other CTI releases, play a crucial role in augmenting Benson’s nimble fretwork on two tracks. Regardless of the quality of the music, Benson soars as a soloist, fashioning interesting melodic ideas from even the most ill-chosen material. Since this album comes late in Benson’s career, one might assume that Bad Benson lives up to its name in a way other than the guitarist intended. However, despite its faults, this album is filled with tasteful guitar-based jazz.
Take Five; Summer Wisher/Winter Dreams; My Latin Brother; No Sooner Said Than Done; Full Compass; The Changing World; Take the "A" Train; Serbian Blue.
George Benson - Guitar, Vocals; Ron Carter - Bass; Phil Upchurch - Bass, Guitar, Percussion; Kenny Barron - Piano; Don Sebesky - Arranger; Steve Gadd - Drums.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.