Someone seems to have left the exit door at GRP wide open; much of the label's talent, including some big names such as Lee Ritenour, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, and Dave Valentin, seems to be bolting as soon as they fulfill their current contracts. However, George Benson has just left his home for the past twenty years, Warner Brothers, and joined GRP. This may be largely due to the fact that super-producer Tommy LiPuma, who produced many of George Benson's classics, is now at the reins of GRP.
Whatever the case, I was anxious to see if Benson and LiPuma could produce a new-label debut to match Benson's Warner debut, Breezin', one of the classic and best-selling contemporary jazz albums of all time.
There's plenty of quality here this is one of the best albums George Benson has put out in a long time. There's more emphasis on his expert guitar playing, which has been sadly underplayed on many of his recent albums. He's also in fine vocal form on four of the ten tunes, and he takes some of his wild trademark guitar-and-scat solo rides on others. As on many of Benson's better works, this album blends the best of smooth R&B and groovin' contemporary jazz.
The core unit on most of the tunes is co-producer Ricky Peterson on keyboards, organ, and drum programming, Paul Peterson on bass and rhythm guitar, Michael Bland on drums, and Benson on lead guitar and vocals. Real strings grace seven tunes. But then there's the drum machines. If you've been reading my reviews for awhile, you know that I'm really getting to detest these things. At least there are real drums happening as well, and touches like the gritty, soulful organ and live strings help to save the day.