265

George Benson: Breezin'

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Thanks to George Benson sometime in 1977 I became a jazz fan. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon his release Breezin', maybe it was its triple-platinum sales or maybe its three Grammy awards. Nonetheless, this Bruce Springsteen rock fan fell for Benson's bluesy guitar sound and wordless vocals. I was also listening to Chuck Mangione and Al Jarreau. All three piqued my interest, and I followed Mangione back to Art Blakey and Jarreau's version of "Take Five" was my ticket to Brubeck. I found an old (now out-of-print) George Benson record called Benson Burner (1965) where he played soul jazz and bebop. I was intrigued by his cover of Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce," and started buying Parker LPs. Actually I stayed with all things current of the time including Weather Report, Tom Scott, and of course Grover Washington Jr.

These musicians provided the sounds of my college years, but also directed me to my future studies in the respected churches of Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis. Jazz musicians, even those we, of the elitist jazz snob schools, look down on, can lead adventurous (and even semi-adventurous) listeners back through history and more importantly prepare them for the inevitable changes the future of jazz will bring.

Benson's Breezin relied heavily on producer Tommy LiPuma's tastes in popular music and choice of musicians to accentuate Benson's jazz talents. He enlisted a 40-piece string section for sounds that were lingua franca to the disco audiences and such a large part of today's smooth jazz. In the late seventies, as well as today LiPuma understood the devices needed to sell jazz to a larger audience than to hard-core jazz fans. Synthesizers, electric pianos, and lush orchestration feed into the polyester and Dacron worlds of the disco era. His vocals on the "This Masquerade" turned the one time Wes Montgomery protege into a pop star. But what is significant in the year 2001 is that underneath all that production is an extremely talented guitarist. Unlike many of the smooth artists of today, his talents have never forsaken his straighter roots. Breezin' remains an easily accessible introduction to jazz newbies.

Track Listing: Breezin'; This Masquerade; Six To Four; Affirmation; So This Is Love?; Lady; Down Here On The Ground; Shark Bite; This Masquerade (Single Edit).

Personnel: George Benson: Lead Guitar, Vocals; Phil Upchurch: Rhythm Guitar, Bass; Ronnie Foster: Electric Piano, Mini-Moog; Jorge Dalto: Clavinet, Acoustic Piano, Electric Piano; Stanley Banks: Bass; Harvey Mason: Drums; Ralph MacDonald: Percussion.

Title: Breezin' | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Warner Bros.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jun27Thu
George Benson
Kodak Hall At Eastman Theatre
Rochester, NY
$53, 73
Jul1Mon
George Benson, Kandace Springs
Place Des Arts
Montreal, Canada
Jul9Tue
George Benson
Olympia
Paris, France
€159.9
Jul12Fri
Umbria Jazz Festival
Arena Santa Giuliana
Perugia, Italy
Jul13Sat
Umbria Jazz Festival
Arena Santa Giuliana
Perugia, Italy
Jul14Sun
Umbria Jazz Festival
Arena Santa Giuliana
Perugia, Italy
Jul15Mon
Umbria Jazz Festival
Arena Santa Giuliana
Perugia, Italy

Related Articles

Read Along for the Ride Album Reviews
Along for the Ride
By Jack Bowers
June 20, 2019
Read Ancestral Recall Album Reviews
Ancestral Recall
By Karl Ackermann
June 20, 2019
Read Eternal Youth Album Reviews
Eternal Youth
By Don Phipps
June 20, 2019
Read Curiouser and Curiouser Album Reviews
Curiouser and Curiouser
By Mike Jurkovic
June 20, 2019
Read Getz At The Gate Album Reviews
Getz At The Gate
By Chris May
June 19, 2019
Read Keep Talkin' Album Reviews
Keep Talkin'
By Dan McClenaghan
June 19, 2019
Read Night Owl Album Reviews
Night Owl
By Dan Bilawsky
June 19, 2019