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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Breezin'Breezin'
Warner Off Roster 1983
Audio CD$2.64
$1.27 (used)
The Best of George BensonThe Best of George Benson
Warner Brothers 1995
Audio CD$2.01
$0.64 (used)
Give Me the NightGive Me the Night
Import
Warner Bros. 1990
Audio CD$2.94
$1.39 (used)
The Greatest Hits of AllThe Greatest Hits of All
Rhino 2003
Audio CD$7.96
$5.50 (used)
The Ultimate Collection (2CD)The Ultimate Collection (2CD)
Rhino 2015
Audio CD$10.00
$10.00 (used)
Bad BensonBad Benson
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2008
Audio CD$2.97
$2.96 (used)
The Very Best of George Benson: The Greatest Hits of AllThe Very Best of George Benson: The Greatest Hits of All
Extra tracks · Import
WEA 2006
Audio CD$4.63
$6.19 (used)
New Boss Guitar Of George BensonNew Boss Guitar Of George Benson
Original Jazz Classics 1990
Audio CD$9.21
$7.79 (used)
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George Benson - Good King Bad - Great E+ LP on CTI label George Benson - Good King Bad - Great E+ LP on CTI label USD $6.00 Buy It Now 1h 39m
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George Benson - Songs and Stories George Benson - Songs and Stories USD $2.50 Buy It Now 2h 8m
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California Concert The Hollywood Palladium w George Benson Freddie Hubbard + California Concert The Hollywood Palladium w George Benson Freddie Hubbard + USD $5.00 Buy It Now 2h 25m
George Benson Willow weep for Me LP France import Shrink Wrap George Benson Willow weep for Me LP France import Shrink Wrap USD $5.54 (0 bids)
2h 28m
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George Benson Body Talk CTI Records 6033 Soul Funk  Vinyl LP Record R22 George Benson Body Talk CTI Records 6033 Soul Funk Vinyl LP Record R22 USD $4.49 Buy It Now 4h
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George Benson - Breezin' - Warner Bros. Records - 1976 #745808 George Benson - Breezin' - Warner Bros. Records - 1976 #745808 USD $11.67 Buy It Now 5h
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The Shape Of Things To Come George Benson Audio CD The Shape Of Things To Come George Benson Audio CD USD $10.74 Buy It Now 8h
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In Your Eyes George Benson 12 In Your Eyes George Benson 12" vinyl single record (Maxi) UK W9487T WARNER USD $15.52 Buy It Now 8h
George Benson Never Give Up On A Good Thing 12 George Benson Never Give Up On A Good Thing 12" vinyl single record (Maxi) UK USD $18.10 Buy It Now 8h
George Benson Lady Love Me (One More Time) 7 George Benson Lady Love Me (One More Time) 7" vinyl single record UK W9614 WEA USD $12.91 Buy It Now 9h
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George Benson Space vinyl LP album record USA CTI7085 CTI 1978 George Benson Space vinyl LP album record USA CTI7085 CTI 1978 USD $15.52 Buy It Now 9h
George Benson Never Give Up On A Good Thing UK 7 George Benson Never Give Up On A Good Thing UK 7" vinyl single record K17902 USD $12.91 Buy It Now 9h
Give Me The Night George Benson vinyl LP album record UK K56823 WARNER 1980 Give Me The Night George Benson vinyl LP album record UK K56823 WARNER 1980 USD $18.11 Buy It Now 9h
Livin' Inside Your Love George Benson USA 2-LP vinyl record (Double Album) Livin' Inside Your Love George Benson USA 2-LP vinyl record (Double Album) USD $18.50 Buy It Now 9h
George Benson I Just Wanna Hang Around You 7 George Benson I Just Wanna Hang Around You 7" vinyl single record UK W8985 WEA USD $12.26 Buy It Now 9h
George Benson What's On Your Mind WARNER BROTHERS 12 George Benson What's On Your Mind WARNER BROTHERS 12" Single K 17748 USD $2.58 (0 bids)
9h
Good King Bad, George Benson, Good Good King Bad, George Benson, Good USD $13.04 Buy It Now 9h
GEORGE BENSON - Inside Love - Excellent Con 7 GEORGE BENSON - Inside Love - Excellent Con 7" Single Warner Brothers W 9427 USD $5.18 Buy It Now 9h
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10h
George Benson-George Benson Collection, 2 LPs, 1977-81 (Warner 2HW-3577) booklet George Benson-George Benson Collection, 2 LPs, 1977-81 (Warner 2HW-3577) booklet USD $4.00 Buy It Now 10h
GEORGE BENSON - Feel like makin' love - 7 GEORGE BENSON - Feel like makin' love - 7" Single EX Con USD $2.27 Buy It Now 11h
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GEORGE BENSON - Lady love me - 7 GEORGE BENSON - Lady love me - 7" Single EX Con USD $2.27 Buy It Now 11h
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GEORGE BENSON : GEORGE BENSON COOKBOOK (CD) sealed GEORGE BENSON : GEORGE BENSON COOKBOOK (CD) sealed USD $10.12 Buy It Now 12h
Twice The Love George Benson LP W 1 25705 1988 Twice The Love George Benson LP W 1 25705 1988 USD $2.40 Buy It Now 12h
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George Benson - Irreplaceable (2004) George Benson - Irreplaceable (2004) USD $1.88 Buy It Now 13h
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Greatest Hits [Slipcase] by George Benson (Guitar) (CD, Jul-2007, Rhino (Label)) Greatest Hits [Slipcase] by George Benson (Guitar) (CD, Jul-2007, Rhino (Label)) USD $14.27 Buy It Now 13h
GEORGE BENSON Let'S Do It Again  CD Rare Orig 1988 Issue 3 Inch Cd Single In 5 I GEORGE BENSON Let'S Do It Again CD Rare Orig 1988 Issue 3 Inch Cd Single In 5 I USD $9.08 Buy It Now 13h
George Benson George Benson "Good King Bad" LP USD $2.99 (0 bids)
13h
Songs and Stories by George Benson (Guitar) (CD, Sep-2009, Concord) Songs and Stories by George Benson (Guitar) (CD, Sep-2009, Concord) USD $13.48 Buy It Now 13h
Revue Collection by George Benson (Guitar) (CD, Nov-1997, Revue Collection) Revue Collection by George Benson (Guitar) (CD, Nov-1997, Revue Collection) USD $6.74 Buy It Now 13h
GEORGE BENSON - THE BEST OF  CD NEW+ GEORGE BENSON - THE BEST OF CD NEW+ USD $14.72 Buy It Now 13h
GEORGE BENSON 45 RPM VINYL RECORD PAPER SLEEVE KISSES IN THE MOONLIGHT 1986 GEORGE BENSON 45 RPM VINYL RECORD PAPER SLEEVE KISSES IN THE MOONLIGHT 1986 USD $0.99 (0 bids)
USD $2.99 Buy It Now
14h
GEORGE BENSON-LOVE DANCE/LOVE X LOVE WARNER BROS 49570 NM 45 GEORGE BENSON-LOVE DANCE/LOVE X LOVE WARNER BROS 49570 NM 45 USD $7.98 Buy It Now 14h
George Benson : I Like Jazz: Essence of CD (1993) George Benson : I Like Jazz: Essence of CD (1993) USD $3.98 Buy It Now 14h
George Benson : George Benson Invitation CD George Benson : George Benson Invitation CD USD $4.98 Buy It Now 14h
Love Remembers by George Benson (Guitar) (CD, Jun-1993, Warner Bros.) Love Remembers by George Benson (Guitar) (CD, Jun-1993, Warner Bros.) USD $4.99 Buy It Now 14h
George Benson - “Lovin’ On Borrowed Time” Promo CD ©1993 Warner Bros / NM NM George Benson - “Lovin’ On Borrowed Time” Promo CD ©1993 Warner Bros / NM NM USD $20.00 Buy It Now 15h
GEORGE BENSON : ENCORE - THE BEST OF (SP9050) - RARITIES GEORGE BENSON : ENCORE - THE BEST OF (SP9050) - RARITIES USD $2.99 (0 bids)
15h
George Benson: Summertime 2001 12 George Benson: Summertime 2001 12" vinyl record 8k USD $5.00 Buy It Now 15h
DEXTER GORDON DEXTER GORDON "Gotham City" orig '81 Columbia LP (george benson/art blakey) USD $8.99 Buy It Now 15h
Irreplaceable [Bonus Track] by George Benson (Guitar) (CD, Oct-2003, GRP (USA)) Irreplaceable [Bonus Track] by George Benson (Guitar) (CD, Oct-2003, GRP (USA)) USD $5.00 Buy It Now 15h
VINYL LP - GEORGE BENSON - IN YOUR EYES - 92-3722-1 VINYL LP - GEORGE BENSON - IN YOUR EYES - 92-3722-1 USD $11.67 Buy It Now 15h
GEORGE BENSON - Being with you - 1983 US WBA 2-track 7 GEORGE BENSON - Being with you - 1983 US WBA 2-track 7" USD $8.44 Buy It Now 15h
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The Greatest Love Of All George Benson UK 7 The Greatest Love Of All George Benson UK 7" vinyl single record OG9454 USD $12.91 Buy It Now 16h
Jazz GEORGE BENSON & THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA Jazz GEORGE BENSON & THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA "Big Boss Band" 1990 Germany LP USD $17.99 Buy It Now 17h
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Collaboration - Earl Klugh & George Benson Cassette Tape - Near Mint Condition! Collaboration - Earl Klugh & George Benson Cassette Tape - Near Mint Condition! USD $3.99 (0 bids)
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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 3.50 | 1 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 re-issues & 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
Original Album Classics
Soul Jazz 2007
.. 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
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Ultimate Collection
Pop Jazz/Crossover 2015

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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