GEORGE BENSON
Hard Bop / Pop Jazz/Crossover / Soul Jazz / Vocal Jazz • United States

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George Benson is a jazz guitarist born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1943. He started out playing straight-ahead instrumental jazz with organist Jack McDuff. Benson got his first experience playing with his several-year stint with McDuff's group. At the age of 21, Benson recorded his first album as leader, The New Boss Guitar, with Brother Jack McDuff on organ.

Benson's next recording was It's Uptown with the George Benson Quartet with Lonnie Smith on organ and Ronnie Cuber on baritone sax. This album showcases Benson's talent in constructing swinging bebop lines at blistering tempos. Benson followed it up with "The George Benson Cookbook," also with Lonnie Smith and Ronnie Cuber.

One of his major hits is the song "This Masquerade", which is included in the top-selling album Breezin' . This album represents a shift to more commercially oriented music which brought Benson a wider audience but alienated some jazz fans. Other
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JACK MCDUFF: BRINGIN’ IT HOME (George Benson / Red Holloway / John Hart) JACK MCDUFF: BRINGIN’ IT HOME (George Benson / Red Holloway / John Hart) USD $5.00 (0 bids)
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1h 38m
Freddie Hubbard Sky Dive CTI LP VG+/VG++ Jazz Funk Billy Cobham George Benson Freddie Hubbard Sky Dive CTI LP VG+/VG++ Jazz Funk Billy Cobham George Benson USD $11.00 Buy It Now 1h 49m
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USD $8.99 Buy It Now
2h 22m
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SEALED GEORGE BENSON  EARL KLUGH Collaboration LP WARNER RECORDS 9255801 US 1987 SEALED GEORGE BENSON  EARL KLUGH Collaboration LP WARNER RECORDS 9255801 US 1987 USD $8.99 Buy It Now 3h
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3h
George Benson, White Rabbit, 1972 Creed Taylor Records. George Benson, White Rabbit, 1972 Creed Taylor Records. USD $4.99 (0 bids)
3h
George Benson - Body Talk (Cti Records 40th Anniversary Edition) CD George Benson - Body Talk (Cti Records 40th Anniversary Edition) CD USD $13.99 Buy It Now 4h
George Benson DBL LP-Livin' Inside Your Love NM/NM George Benson DBL LP-Livin' Inside Your Love NM/NM USD $6.99 (0 bids)
4h
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George Benson - Big Boss Band CD George Benson - Big Boss Band CD USD $14.99 Buy It Now 5h
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5h
CMG Smooth R&B sampler promo; GEORGE BENSON, NAJEE, ALL-4-ONE, VANESSA WILLIAMS CMG Smooth R&B sampler promo; GEORGE BENSON, NAJEE, ALL-4-ONE, VANESSA WILLIAMS USD $6.99 (0 bids)
7h
CD: GEORGE BENSON~ BREEZIN' SHM JAPAN WPCR-13452 Rare cd... CD: GEORGE BENSON~ BREEZIN' SHM JAPAN WPCR-13452 Rare cd... USD $19.99 (0 bids)
7h
GEORGE BENSON (GUITA - ORIGINAL ALBUM SERIES, VOL. 2 [SLIPCASE] - NEW CD BOXSET GEORGE BENSON (GUITA - ORIGINAL ALBUM SERIES, VOL. 2 [SLIPCASE] - NEW CD BOXSET USD $20.78 Buy It Now 7h
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GEORGE BENSON GEORGE BENSON "Weekend In L.A." original PROMO Double LP 1978 (WB 2WB 3139) USD $15.00 Buy It Now 8h
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Its Uptown With The GEORGE BENSON QUARTET Stereo LP Columbia CS 9325 RE-ISSUE Its Uptown With The GEORGE BENSON QUARTET Stereo LP Columbia CS 9325 RE-ISSUE USD $2.95 Buy It Now 8h
CD: TAKE 6 THE STANDARD /George Benson,Ella Fitzgerald,Aaron Neville,Al Jarreau CD: TAKE 6 THE STANDARD /George Benson,Ella Fitzgerald,Aaron Neville,Al Jarreau USD $1.99 (0 bids)
8h
George Benson - Other Side Of Abbey Road CD George Benson - Other Side Of Abbey Road CD USD $14.39 Buy It Now 8h
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George Benson / Randy Brecker / Steve Gadd / Hubert Laws / George Benson / Randy Brecker / Steve Gadd / Hubert Laws / "CTI" LP LISTEN Jazz USD $9.74 Buy It Now 9h
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Beyond The Blue Horizon - George Benson (2014, CD New) Beyond The Blue Horizon - George Benson (2014, CD New) USD $17.54 Buy It Now 12h
George Benson Count Basie Orchestra  Big Boss Band cd George Benson Count Basie Orchestra Big Boss Band cd USD $6.99 Buy It Now 12h
cd-single, George Benson - Let's Do It Again, 3 Inch CD Single cd-single, George Benson - Let's Do It Again, 3 Inch CD Single USD $5.54 Buy It Now 12h
GEORGE BENSON GEORGE BENSON "WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS" CASSETTE USD $5.95 Buy It Now 12h
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GEORGE BENSON Space LP 5 Track Gatefold Sleeve Sticker Tear To Front Of Sleeve GEORGE BENSON Space LP 5 Track Gatefold Sleeve Sticker Tear To Front Of Sleeve USD $15.00 Buy It Now 13h
JILL SCOTT[Chris Botti,George Benson,Sergio Mendes+]:COLLABORATIONS [NEW]ECD JILL SCOTT[Chris Botti,George Benson,Sergio Mendes+]:COLLABORATIONS [NEW]ECD USD $6.99 Buy It Now 13h
George Benson - Lady Me Me 7 George Benson - Lady Me Me 7" SIngle 1983 USD $13.52 Buy It Now 13h
Miles Davis ‎– Miles In The Sky CD Tony Williams George Benson Herbie Hancock Miles Davis ‎– Miles In The Sky CD Tony Williams George Benson Herbie Hancock USD $16.51 Buy It Now 14h
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Chilling Beach Sounds Vo2. 1 (CD, 2008) George Benson/Stereo MC's/Wes Montgomery Chilling Beach Sounds Vo2. 1 (CD, 2008) George Benson/Stereo MC's/Wes Montgomery USD $7.05 Buy It Now 14h
GEORGE BENSON My Father My Son CD 2 Track B/w I Will Keep You In My Heart  UK Ha GEORGE BENSON My Father My Son CD 2 Track B/w I Will Keep You In My Heart UK Ha USD $7.87 Buy It Now 14h
GEORGE BENSON AND PATTI AUSTIN I'll Keep Your Dreams Alive CD 3 Track B/w Narrat GEORGE BENSON AND PATTI AUSTIN I'll Keep Your Dreams Alive CD 3 Track B/w Narrat USD $7.87 Buy It Now 14h
GEORGE BENSON S/t CD 7 Track With Card Outer Slipcase  EUROPEAN Dring 1999 GEORGE BENSON S/t CD 7 Track With Card Outer Slipcase EUROPEAN Dring 1999 USD $8.11 Buy It Now 14h
GEORGE BENSON Anthology DOUBLE CD 32 Track 2 Disc Set With Booklet In Card Outer GEORGE BENSON Anthology DOUBLE CD 32 Track 2 Disc Set With Booklet In Card Outer USD $10.80 Buy It Now 14h
GEORGE BENSON Backtracks CD 6 Track  UK Ranch Life 1999 GEORGE BENSON Backtracks CD 6 Track UK Ranch Life 1999 USD $7.87 Buy It Now 14h
GEORGE BENSON Love For Sale CD 10 Track  EUROPEAN Cedar GEORGE BENSON Love For Sale CD 10 Track EUROPEAN Cedar USD $7.87 Buy It Now 14h
The Best By George Benson The Best By George Benson USD $6.99 Buy It Now 14h
GEORGE BENSON / BLUE BENSON LP w/ Insert Orig JAPAN ISSUE GEORGE BENSON / BLUE BENSON LP w/ Insert Orig JAPAN ISSUE USD $14.99 Buy It Now 14h
GEORGE BENSON & JOE FARRELL Benson & Farrell 1976 VG++ CTI label GEORGE BENSON & JOE FARRELL Benson & Farrell 1976 VG++ CTI label USD $6.99 Buy It Now 15h
GEORGE BENSON Beyond The Blue Horizon 1979 VG++ CTI white promo label GEORGE BENSON Beyond The Blue Horizon 1979 VG++ CTI white promo label USD $6.99 Buy It Now 15h
GEORGE BENSON 7 GEORGE BENSON 7" PS Japan LOVE BALLAD s1229 USD $8.00 Buy It Now 15h
ARETHA FRANKLIN AND GEORGE BENSON Love All The Hurt Away 7 ARETHA FRANKLIN AND GEORGE BENSON Love All The Hurt Away 7" B/w A Whole Lot Of M USD $7.87 Buy It Now 15h
George Benson – Give Me The Night – WB 56 823 – LP Vinyl Record George Benson – Give Me The Night – WB 56 823 – LP Vinyl Record USD $15.31 Buy It Now 15h
George Benson – Livin’ Inside Your Love – K 66085 – LP Vinyl Record George Benson – Livin’ Inside Your Love – K 66085 – LP Vinyl Record USD $15.31 Buy It Now 15h
George Benson Breezin' Warner Bros. Record BSK 3111 VG. George Benson Breezin' Warner Bros. Record BSK 3111 VG. USD $0.89 (0 bids)
15h
The George Benson Collection LP The George Benson Collection LP USD $19.99 Buy It Now 16h
GEORGE BENSON Breezin' 1976 German pressed Vinyl LP EXCELLENT CONDITION GEORGE BENSON Breezin' 1976 German pressed Vinyl LP EXCELLENT CONDITION USD $11.25 Buy It Now 16h
George Benson Give Me The Night (VG+) 1980 Warner Bros. 12 George Benson Give Me The Night (VG+) 1980 Warner Bros. 12" LP USD $7.99 Buy It Now 16h
In Flight - George Benson (2011, CD New) Deluxe ED In Flight - George Benson (2011, CD New) Deluxe ED USD $13.05 Buy It Now 16h
GEORGE BENSON In Flight LP 6 Track Gatefold Small Bit Of Sticker Residue On Slee GEORGE BENSON In Flight LP 6 Track Gatefold Small Bit Of Sticker Residue On Slee USD $7.87 Buy It Now 17h
Weekend in L.A.-George Benson 1978-2 records Weekend in L.A.-George Benson 1978-2 records USD $5.00 (0 bids)
17h
GEORGE BENSON While The City Sleeps LP 8 Track With Inner  GERMAN Warner Bros 19 GEORGE BENSON While The City Sleeps LP 8 Track With Inner GERMAN Warner Bros 19 USD $7.87 Buy It Now 17h
GEORGE BENSON Livin Inside Your Love DOUBLE LP 12 Track Double In Gatefold Pic S GEORGE BENSON Livin Inside Your Love DOUBLE LP 12 Track Double In Gatefold Pic S USD $7.87 Buy It Now 17h
LOVING YOU Various LP 14 Track Compilation Featuring George Benson, Imagination, LOVING YOU Various LP 14 Track Compilation Featuring George Benson, Imagination, USD $7.87 Buy It Now 17h
George Benson Breezin' LP Warner Brothers Lady Six To Four Original Inner Sleeve George Benson Breezin' LP Warner Brothers Lady Six To Four Original Inner Sleeve USD $9.99 Buy It Now 17h
George Benson - In Flight [CD New] George Benson - In Flight [CD New] USD $15.28 Buy It Now 17h
GEORGE BENSON Tenderly LP 8 Track Unopened In Original Shrinkwrap With Deletion GEORGE BENSON Tenderly LP 8 Track Unopened In Original Shrinkwrap With Deletion USD $9.41 Buy It Now 17h
George Benson : Par Excellence CD (1993) George Benson : Par Excellence CD (1993) USD $12.40 Buy It Now 17h
GEORGE BENSON Livin Inside Your Love DOUBLE LP 12 Track Double But Has Small Del GEORGE BENSON Livin Inside Your Love DOUBLE LP 12 Track Double But Has Small Del USD $7.87 Buy It Now 17h
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George Benson Love For Sale 10 Track Cd Album George Benson Love For Sale 10 Track Cd Album USD $6.76 Buy It Now 17h
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GEORGE BENSON Love Songs LP 12 Track  UK K-tel 1985 GEORGE BENSON Love Songs LP 12 Track UK K-tel 1985 USD $7.87 Buy It Now 17h
George Benson George Benson "Breezin'" 1976 Warner VINYL LP BSK-3111 VG+ USD $2.99 Buy It Now 18h
In Flight by George Benson (Guitar) (CD, Apr-2011, Friday Music) In Flight by George Benson (Guitar) (CD, Apr-2011, Friday Music) USD $11.85 Buy It Now 18h
*listen* GEORGE BENSON - NEVER GIVE UP ON A GOOD THING  12 *listen* GEORGE BENSON - NEVER GIVE UP ON A GOOD THING 12" 1981 EX USD $6.00 Buy It Now 18h
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George Benson - George Benson Anthology (2001) factory sealed double cd album, George Benson - George Benson Anthology (2001) factory sealed double cd album, USD $10.52 (0 bids)
18h
GEORGE BENSON - Breezin' - MFSL 1-011 GEORGE BENSON - Breezin' - MFSL 1-011 USD $9.99 (1 bids)
18h
GEORGE BENSON AND EARL KLUGH Collaboration LP 7 Track With Inner  GERMAN Warner GEORGE BENSON AND EARL KLUGH Collaboration LP 7 Track With Inner GERMAN Warner USD $7.87 Buy It Now 18h
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Big Boss Band by George Benson (CD, Sep-1990, Warner Bros.) Like New Condition Big Boss Band by George Benson (CD, Sep-1990, Warner Bros.) Like New Condition USD $1.99 Buy It Now 19h
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BreezinBreezin
Warner Off Roster 1990
Audio CD$2.52
$0.27 (used)
The Greatest Hits of AllThe Greatest Hits of All
Rhino 2003
Audio CD$8.91
$7.93 (used)
The Best of George BensonThe Best of George Benson
Warner Off Roster 1995
Audio CD$4.59
$0.18 (used)
George Benson CollectionGeorge Benson Collection
Rhino 2007
Audio CD$5.00
$8.66 (used)
Essential CollectionEssential Collection
Import
Music Club Deluxe 2011
Audio CD$4.97
$4.17 (used)
CollaborationCollaboration
Import
Warner Off Roster 1987
Audio CD$4.53
$0.01 (used)
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GEORGE BENSON Discography

GEORGE BENSON albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
The New Boss Guitar of George Benson
Hard Bop 1964
.. Album Cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
It's Uptown
Hard Bop 1966
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 3 ratings
The George Benson Cookbook
Hard Bop 1966
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Willow Weep For Me
Hard Bop 1967
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Giblet Gravy
Hard Bop 1968
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Shape of Things to Come
Hard Bop 1968
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Goodies
Pop Jazz/Crossover 1968
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Tell It Like It Is
Hard Bop 1969
.. Album Cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
The Other Side of Abbey Road
Pop Jazz/Crossover 1970
.. Album Cover 4.20 | 3 ratings
Beyond the Blue Horizon
Soul Jazz 1971
.. Album Cover 3.45 | 5 ratings
White Rabbit
Pop Jazz/Crossover 1972
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Body Talk
Soul Jazz 1973
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Bad Benson
Pop Jazz/Crossover 1974
.. Album Cover 3.95 | 3 ratings
Breezin'
Pop Jazz/Crossover 1976
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Good King Bad
Hard Bop 1976
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Benson & Farrell
Soul Jazz 1976
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Benson Burner
Hard Bop 1976
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
In Flight
Hard Bop 1977
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Erotic Moods
Soul Jazz 1978
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Livin' Inside Your Love
Hard Bop 1979
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Give Me the Night
Pop Jazz/Crossover 1980
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
In Your Eyes
Hard Bop 1983
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Pacific Fire
Pop Jazz/Crossover 1983
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
I Got a Woman and Some Blues
Soul Jazz 1984
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
20/20
Pop Jazz/Crossover 1984
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
While the City Sleeps
Hard Bop 1986
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Collaboration
Hard Bop 1987
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Twice the Love
Hard Bop 1988
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Tenderly
Hard Bop 1989
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Big Boss Band (feat. The Count Basie Orchestra)
Hard Bop 1990
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Love Remembers
Hard Bop 1993
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
That's Right
Hard Bop 1996
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Standing Together
Hard Bop 1998
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Absolute Benson
Hard Bop 2000
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Irreplaceable
Hard Bop 2003
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Givin’ Up (with Al Al Jarreau)
Soul Jazz 2006
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Songs And Stories
Pop Jazz/Crossover 2009
.. Album Cover 3.45 | 2 ratings
Guitar Man
Pop Jazz/Crossover 2011
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole
Vocal Jazz 2013

GEORGE BENSON EPs & splits

GEORGE BENSON live albums

.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
In Concert - Carnegie Hall
Hard Bop 1976
.. Album Cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Weekend in L.A.
Pop Jazz/Crossover 1977
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz On A Sunday Afternoon Vol. I (aka Love For Sale aka In Concert)
Soul Jazz 1981
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz On A Sunday Afternoon Vol. II (aka Lil Darlin')
Soul Jazz 1981
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz On A Sunday Afternoon Vol. III
Soul Jazz 1982
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
San Francisco 1972
Hard Bop 1996
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Best Of George Benson Live
Soul Jazz 2005

GEORGE BENSON demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

GEORGE BENSON boxset & compilations

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Blue Benson
Hard Bop 1976
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Space
Hard Bop 1978
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The George Benson Collection
Hard Bop 1981
.. Album Cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
The Silver Collection
Hard Bop 1984
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Midnight Moods
Hard Bop 1991
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Verve Jazz Masters 21
Hard Bop 1994
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Legends
Hard Bop 1994
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best
Hard Bop 1994
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Best of George Benson: The Instrumentals
Hard Bop 1997
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Anthology
Hard Bop 2000
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Very Best of George Benson: The Greatest Hits of All
Hard Bop 2003
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Moods: Hot
Hard Bop 2004
.. Album Cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
The Essential George Benson
Hard Bop 2006
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Collections
Hard Bop 2008
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Classic Love Songs
Hard Bop 2010
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Good King Bad / Benson & Farrell
Hard Bop 2010
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Doin The Thing
Pop Jazz/Crossover 2012

GEORGE BENSON singles (0)

GEORGE BENSON movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Give Me The Night - Live At Waterfront Hall
Hard Bop 2007

GEORGE BENSON Reviews

GEORGE BENSON The George Benson Cookbook

Album · 1966 · Hard Bop
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
No doubt, if George Benson isn’t the best guitarist in the world of jazz, he’s probably in the top five at least. The problem though, is finding an album where he really rips on the six string, as opposed to crooning love songs or some other commercial endeavor. Generally the early part of Benson’s career has his best recorded output, which is true with this early release, “The George Benson Cookbook”. Recorded when Benson was still fairly new to the scene, he does not hold back on this one and comes out with both guns blazing on the first cut. Album opener, “The Cooker”, is high speed hard bop with plenty of impossible lightning fast runs from Benson, as well as some very heated baritone work from Ronnie Culper. In fact, Ronnie shines all through this album, and his choice of bari sax gives him a unique voice. Side one continues with more swingin bluesy bop, some groovy bossa and Benson’s one vocal number, a very spirited take on “All of Me”. This song can be wore out, but George lifts it up with his energetic vocals. This upbeat version is a good example of how this entire album has the warm energy and spontaneous feel of a live club date.

Side two continues with more hard bop and bluesy RnB with “Return of the Prodigal Son” being a stand out with its cool soul jazz riffs suitable for a 60s spy movie or liquor commercial. There are no bad songs on this entire album and all the soloists really cook. Along with Culper and Benson, you get Lonnie Smith on the B3, Bennie Green on the T-bone, and a few other guests on horns. This album is highly recommended for fans of George Benson, great guitar playing in general and 60s hard bop that borders on soul jazz. Over the years, this sort of blues/jazz style became a bit generic, but not “Cookbook“, it has more energy than most.

GEORGE BENSON Beyond the Blue Horizon

Album · 1971 · Soul Jazz
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Sean Trane
Once Creed Traylor decided to go independent from the A&M stable, he created the CTI label, one that would release many early 70’s JR/F masterpiece of the early 70’s, with only Clive Davis’ Columbia label being even more influential by the middle of the decade. With an ahead-of-time humorous (and sad) album title and artwork, Benson invited Carter and DeJohnette and organist Clarence Palmer, somewhat unknown to me, but his playing is heavily reminiscent of Brian Auger.

Opening on one of jazz’s best-known riff, the unforgettable So What, but fairly thoroughly rearranged, so that it won’t be immediately recognizable, unless being a musician. Indeed, Palmer’s excellent soul-ish organ-playing is leading you into an Auger-ian express to oblivion, if it wasn’t for a Montgomerian-sounding guitar. Excellent but unexpected rendition of a timeless classic. The following Gentle Rain film theme gets the same gentle fusion treatment as its companion piece, with those unstoppable ogre organ lines.

If the A-side was made of covers, the flipside is all penned by Benson himself, and the opening All Clear track is a gentle upbeat composition that features some un-credited violin - maybe Ron Carter on cello, but not sure. The following Ode To A Kudu track features more bowed string instrument, but here we’re definitely in the cello’s register. The closing Somewhere In The East is easily the album’s highlight, partly due to the high energy level of all concerned, but particularly Benson’s louder guitar sound. The first CD reissue (on Epic) features two bonus alternate-take tracks, the first of which is an interesting version of Kudu and the second an All Clear, both of which seem to be a tad more Montgomery-esque.

While BTBH is an excellent classic, it doesn’t strike as many targets as its successor White Rabbit, but the present is a sure second-place album in Benson’s CTI era. I’m not sure hardcore JR/Fheads will really appreciate all that much this kind of gentle fusion, not that far away from mainstream, and chances are that if recorded as such some 15 years later, some would qualified then it as ECM-muzak. In the meantime, this short album and its successor could find a spot on your shelves if you’re into unobtrusive fusion.

GEORGE BENSON White Rabbit

Album · 1972 · Pop Jazz/Crossover
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Sean Trane
Second Creed Taylor production for the CTI label for Benson, despite being a usual Taylor suspects. Among the supporting cast, we find the future Bruford-collab Berliner, the giants Carter and Hancock, the percussive Airto and Cobham and the windy Laws, Bodner, Marge and Penque, and some more.

The weird thing is that George only wrote one tune (the excellent closing El Mar), but chose to feature some 4 fairly high-profile composition to cover although very much rearranged ala Wes Montgomery manner, but slightly more 70’s fusion. Indeed, one must really listen attentively to recognize Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit. Yes, there are some Spanish influence in the instrumental rearrangements, but one can’t hear much Casady’s original descending bass riff, and of course, the absence of vocals don’t help much either. The old Summer Of 42 standard is also quite different to what you’d expect, when Benson giving it a slight Flamenco edge with his guitar in the first part, before going big-band-like. Another fairly strong piece is the excellent Little Train.

On the flipside, one can’t help but being enthralled by the happy theme of the Mamas & Papas’ superb California Dreamin’, but I doubt that you’ll recognize it quick if it is your first exposure to these Latin arrangements. Excellent stuff, though. The album ends on the sole Benson tune, the almost 11-mins El Mar, which, as its title hints, also bears a strong Spanish influence, sometimes even hinting at Rodrigo’s Aranjuez piece, the only one featuring some vocals (flamenco), even if somewhat embedded in the mix.

While WR is a outstanding full fusion album, one that’s warmly recommended to most every fusion or even non-radical straight jazz fan (especially those enjoying Montgomery’s guitar playing), it will also be the last one on the CTI label that I would entice you to investigate, because his next few ones can be a bit whishy-washy efforts, often straying shamelessly in mainstream.

GEORGE BENSON Beyond the Blue Horizon

Album · 1971 · Soul Jazz
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dreadpirateroberts
Benson leads a great quartet through a selection of covers and originals in true CTI fashion.

As ever Benson's guitar is at the heart of this one, which has him taking the majority of lead duties, on a Miles Davis cover, a song from a Hollywood soundtrack and a few originals. He's backed by Carter and DeJohnette, who are, pleasingly, given free reign. DeJohnette keeps things interesting and Carter plays low on the neck of his double bass for much of the album, creating a nice mix of rhythm and lead playing. Clarence Palmer's organ also features on 'Beyond the Blue Horizon' which gives the session a slightly blues feel, especially on the cover of 'The Gentle Rain.'

'So What' seems to be the only misstep - while the reinterpretation undoubtedly deserves credit (some of it is wonderfully frantic) it simply sounds too jumbled and doesn't quite hit the spot. It's probably the shorter pieces that work best, with 'All Clear' having a laid back signature riff with a blues/jazz feel. The most satisfying piece on the record is the sublime 'Ode to a Kudu' - which is basically a long solo subtly enhanced by the rest of the quartet. Beautiful.

Closing the album is 'Somewhere in the East' which is a little more experimental, featuring African inspired percussion and an often sparse arrangement, it's not too long after it builds up to some jangling guitar from Benson before falling in intensity again. Fans of Benson or CIT should not pass this up. Four stars.

The reissue includes alternate takes of 'All Clear' 'Ode to a Kudu' and 'Somewhere in the East' which are all fairly different in rhythm from their LP counterparts, and make this one from Benson really worthwhile.

GEORGE BENSON Guitar Man

Album · 2011 · Pop Jazz/Crossover
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js
Its no big surprise that George Benon’s new CD falls into the general pop-jazz category as he has been turning out quality popular jazz for many decades, but if you are thinking this is some sort of cookie cutter homogeneous smooth jazz album where all the tracks sound the same, you couldn’t be more wrong. In a lot of ways this album is a throwback to the 60s when artists like Ramsey Lewis, Wes Montgomery and Herbie Mann would put out interesting and eclectic instrumental records with inventive versions of current pop songs as well as classics. On “Guitar Man”, that sort of eclectic spirit returns with covers of songs from the party standard, “Tequila”, to Coltrane’s spiritual “Naima”. Combining such disparate musical ideas may sound tacky or superficial, but Benson’s new album holds up well with a strong sense of integrity tied together with very tasteful arrangements and Benson’s always brilliant guitar work.

One track that may exemplify what is best about this album is an unlikely cover of “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. Orchestrated with a small combo and subtle strings, the well worn old Beatles classic is barely recognizable as the melody is slowed and given extra slinky modern syncopations and every chord is extended or substituted to likewise present a more modern sound. Towards the end of the song Benson presents a sly figure in the strings that almost sounds like his classic, “Breezin”.

Although some songs on here have an almost “smooth jazz” sound, producer John Burk avoids the sort of heavy-handed compression and reverb that makes a lot of modern jazz sound artificial. Generally the sound on “Guitar Man” is a very natural live studio recording sound. Benson and crew also avoid the homogeneous boredom by varying the song’s instrumental ensembles from solo guitar, to small post-bop combo or a combo plus light orchestrations. If you’re a fan of Benson’s vocals, he also croons a couple numbers too. Overall a very tasteful and thoughtful album from one of the best jazz guitarists of all time.

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