Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

5

George Benson and the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra at Mesa Arts Center

Patricia Myers By

Sign in to view read count
George Benson and the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra
Mesa Arts Center
Mesa, Arizona
January 21, 2015

Guitarist-vocalist George Benson performed two straight hours of soul-satisfying and totally thrilling music that reprised his five decades of hits in jazz and pop- contemporary music acclaim. The non-stop set ranged from his 1964 jazz albums debut through multiple Grammy-winning gold and platinum CDs, to his 2013 Nat "King" Cole tribute, Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole (Concord Records, 2013).

With his 72nd birthday approaching on March 22, Benson negated clichés related to that statistic via the clarity of his voice and musical high-energy, from first note to last. He proved that he's a combination consummate jazz musician, top pop vocalist and ultimate crowd-pleaser, chatting personably to the audience about his early life performing as a child as "Little Georgie," commenting about the music, and expressing his love for Arizona, where he has had a longtime home in the Phoenix area.

This is a musician who has chops beyond chops, and explicitly proved it song after song. He appeared indefatigable, displaying expert musicianship and ongoing energy, despite the demanding length of his performance. And although his pop charts fueled many a romance, his music has always conveyed aspects of love, rather than the blatant sexual messages of most current stars.

Benson wasted no time getting into his widely known repertoire, kicking off with "Lady Love Me Tonight" and following that with "Breezin,'" the hit that cemented his position on the contemporary pop charts. He then referenced to his early career path by shifting into jazz mode for excerpts from the Nat King Cole songbook to croon "Nature Boy" and "Smile," later delivering "Ballerina," each with substantial enhancements supplied by the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra.

During the 18-song concert, Benson shifted comfortably from the pop fare of "Give Me the Night" and "Turn Your Love Around" to the pure jazz-soul of "Moody's Mood for Love," and then into ballad mode for "Masquerade" and "Beyond the Sea." Benson's voice was warmly rich, and his guitar mastery evident in each solo segment. Backup vocalist, Liliane Rios also sang a duet with Benson on "Moody's Mood."

The mesmerized audience at the Mesa Arts Center was a mixture of silver hairs, happily hip Boomers and exuberant youths, many lifting iPhones and iPads to take photos or record, despite the admonitions of ushers. Toward the end of the concert, the crowd was up and dancing in place, a familiar sight at all of Benson's performances. Two encores rewarded the demonstrative audience, "Never Give Up on a Good Thing" and, of course, "On Broadway."

The concert was conducted by pianist/musical director Randy Waldman on acoustic and electric keyboards. He also led the orchestra and Benson's combo of a guitarist-vocalist, electric keyboardist and acoustic-electric bassist and drummer.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
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
Jul16Tue
Umbria Jazz Festival
Arena Santa Giuliana
Perugia, Italy

Shop

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

Related Articles

Live Reviews
JAZZTOPAD 2018
By Henning Bolte
February 16, 2019
Live Reviews
America At The Paramount
By Mike Perciaccante
February 16, 2019
Live Reviews
Brussels Jazz Festival 2019
By Martin Longley
February 15, 2019
Live Reviews
Gourmet At April Jazz Club
By Anthony Shaw
February 13, 2019
Live Reviews
Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science at Cologne Philharmonic
By Phillip Woolever
February 12, 2019
Live Reviews
Quentin Baxter Quintet At The Jazz Corner
By Martin McFie
February 12, 2019
Live Reviews
Kraków Jazz Juniors Competition 2018
By Martin Longley
February 12, 2019