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George Benson

George Benson is simply one of the greatest guitarists in jazz history, but he is also an amazingly versatile musician, and that frustrates to no end critics who would paint him into a narrow bop box. He can play in just about any style -- from swing to bop to R&B to pop -- with supreme taste, a beautiful rounded tone, terrific speed, a marvelous sense of logic in building solos, and, always, an unquenchable urge to swing. His inspirations may have been Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery -- and he can do dead-on impressions of both -- but his style is completely his own. Not only can he play lead brilliantly, he is also one of the best rhythm guitarists around, supportive to soloists and a dangerous swinger, particularly in a soul-jazz format. Yet Benson can also sing in a lush, soulful tenor with mannerisms similar to those of Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, and it is his voice that has proved to be more marketable to the public than his guitar. Benson is the guitar-playing equivalent of Nat King Cole -- a fantastic pianist whose smooth way with a pop vocal eventually eclipsed his instrumental prowess in the marketplace -- but unlike Cole, Benson has been granted enough time after his fling with the pop charts to reaffirm his jazz guitar credentials, which he still does at his concerts.

Benson actually started out professionally as a singer, performing in nightclubs at eight, recording four sides for RCA's X label in 1954, forming a rock band at 17 while using a guitar that his stepfather made for him. Exposure to records by Christian, Montgomery, and Charlie Parker got him interested in jazz, and by 1962, the teenaged Benson was playing in Brother Jack McDuff's band. After forming his own group in 1965, Benson became another of talent scout John Hammond's major discoveries, recording two highly regarded albums of soul-jazz and hard bop for Columbia and turning up on several records by others, including Miles Davis' Miles in the Sky. He switched to Verve in 1967, and, shortly after the death of Montgomery in June 1968, producer Creed Taylor began recording Benson with larger ensembles on A&M (1968-1969) and big groups and all-star combos on CTI (1971-1976).

While the A&M and CTI albums certainly earned their keep and made Benson a guitar star in the jazz world, the mass market didn't catch on until he began to emphasize vocals after signing with Warner Bros. in 1976. His first album for Warner Bros., Breezin', became a Top Ten hit on the strength of its sole vocal track, "This Masquerade," and this led to a string of hit albums in an R&B-flavored pop mode, culminating with the Quincy Jones-produced Give Me the Night. As the '80s wore on, though, Benson's albums became riddled with commercial formulas and inferior material, with his guitar almost entirely relegated to the background. Perhaps aware of the futility of chasing the charts (after all, "This Masquerade" was a lucky accident), Benson reversed his field late in the '80s to record a fine album of standards, Tenderly, and another with the Basie band, his guitar now featured more prominently. His pop-flavored work also improved noticeably in the '90s. Benson retains the ability to spring surprises on his fans and critics, like his dazzlingly idiomatic TV appearance and subsequent record date with Benny Goodman in 1975 in honor of John Hammond, and his awesome command of the moment at several Playboy Jazz Festivals in the '80s. His latter-day recordings include the 1998 effort Standing Together, 2000's Absolute Benson, 2001's All Blues, and 2004's Irreplaceable. Three songs from 2006's Givin' It Up, recorded with Al Jarreau, were nominated for Grammy Awards in separate categories.

Benson began to see numerous reissues of his catalog material from his years with producer Creed Taylor on Verve, A&M, and CTI, from 2008 on. In 2009, he signed to Concord and released Songs and Stories for the label, and followed it up with his first primarily instrumental album in 35 years entitled Guitar Man in 2011. Two years later, in 2013, Benson released Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole, featuring arrangements by Nelson Riddle and Randy Waldman, and at the age of 70, it was one of Benson's finest albums. ~ Richard S. Ginell & Steve Leggett, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Family Reunion (Radio Single)

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Track List: The Lady In My Life (Single)

Comments

tomman30
Great beach sunset groove.....i n Bali
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorow will be the best day of your life however if you don't post this you will die in two days. Now you started reading this so don't stop . This is so scary put this on at least 5songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works.
kemp_victori a
Saw him in Lincoln, CA - given free tickets by some generous couple. Excellent evening show! Loved ALL THAT JAZZ On Broadway. Never imagine I would ever experience that song in person!
brittlinda48
Awesome, a smooth cut, love it!!
Supreme,!
Very smooth...♡
"Rainy Night In Georgia"Smoo v e - A s - S i l k
Stone-Cold Super-Badd Super-Star Soul-Brotha
~H-Town~Groo v i n ' ~ W e - D o n ' t - S t o p - T h e - M u s i c ~
*Lover's-Roc k ~ S t e a d y - S i t u a t i o n *
LOVE+S Disciple*24 k*978*1*~7m1 4 y ~
gamerdad33
Jah bless my Brother!
roadhouserod s
Lilia, woooo is right. You're beautiful!
Reminds me cruizing in Marina Del Rey, CA UMMMMMMMM
Very smooth.
jenny.madrig a l 9
Being from the Hill of Pittsburgh we know how to jam like no one. else..
Wooo
Very nice song to have a glass of wine to
Mr. Benson you are truly a master craftsman. You have the unique ability to weave music from the air through your voIce and especially through your guitar...LOV E YOU MAN...LOVE YOU!!!
Mr. B is a fabulous musical note just looking for a place to happen... thank you GB so very much!
bobbyconrad
Beautiful song!! Love ya Mr Benson
This guy has a smove voice u can just tap ur feet to and chilax to.
One of my favorites!! On Broadway, which is listed on the Weekend In L.A album.... Great singer and guitarist
I love this song:)
tomman30
pick that here guitar.....s o smooth
edwardgriffi n 2 1
One of the greats and a homeboy from the Hill district!
tomman30
fantastic... g r e a t melody...
The Great George *978*4m14y~
Originality
Love it
Turn Your Love Around...lov e d this song since it first came out. George Benson...tim e l e s s
Saw him in Austin Tx 25 or so years ago. Forty piece orchestra, just blew us away. MMMM MMMMM MMMMM!!
swingshiftcr e a t i v e
Check out BENSON & FARRELL, with flautist Joe Farrell. Great stuff from 1976!
This Is Real Music.
timbo.nelson
Not alone among my frustrated guitar peers, he is considered by us as a once in a hundred year gift to us. George has peers, but none are better.
Live u George forever. XOXO
jshadyac
George always puts me rite!
mray65
Such talent... sing ang guitar... way cool!
Gb will always be my fave....
All I need is a beach and a frozen drink
I could listen to George 24/7 ...7 days a week........ a n d u?
he is a true gentleman with a God given talent.
Jam
Great in concert!
i2liktoast
Outstanding artist
Great song
I Love this song!!!
I agree. Benson came to me in 1975 w/ BREEZIN. I was a soph. at MSU and so hungry for really good music. He is still at the top after all these years. Thanks George!
Stop singing more guitar fantastic. His Abby road album one of my favorites
THIS IS A GOD GIVEN TALENT FOR US TO ENJOY
Excellen tune sweet
Breezin' was the 1st of his albums I had listened to back in the 70's; so cool is his style. Love him! :-)
This dude can really play and sing some jazz! Right on dude!
Good music alway's enjoy his sound one of the GREAT's !!!!!
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