While the phenomenal success of George Benson’s Breezin’ (1976) album may have fattened his wallet; it led the guitarist down a path that dismayed jazz critics worldwide. Indeed, the bulk of Benson’s albums over the past 20 years have featured considerably less jazz and, unfortunately, more pop. Not so with The George Benson Cookbook (1966). This sizzling CD features the then young, hotshot string-picker on 14 swingin’ bebop/soul-jazz tracks. Benson kicks things off in rapid fashion with the aptly titled, "The Cooker." Not only does this track feature blazing licks from Benson, but baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber and organist Lonnie Smith also weigh in with tasty solos. The rest of the material presented here is a mix of greasy blues, straight-ahead swing and R&B grooves. A hint of Benson's later crossover success can be found on this reissue’s two vocal tracks, "All of Me" and the previously unreleased, "Let Then Talk." A good place to start with Benson as he used to be. ####
1. The Cooker, 2. Benny's Back, 3. Bossa Rock, 4. All Of Me, 5. Big Fat Lady, 6. Benson's Rider, 7. Ready And Able, 8. The Borgia Stick, 9. Return Of The Prodigal Son, 10 Jumpin' With Symphony Sid
George Benson, guitar; Ronnie Cuber, bari sax; Bennie Green, trombone; Lonnie Smith, organ; Jimmy Lovelace/Marion Booker, drums.
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