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George Benson

George Benson

George Benson
@ the HMV Hammersmith Apollo
29 June 2012

Click an image to enlarge.

Biography

“George Benson is undeniably one of the consummate artists of our time and producing music of his calibre is all that any producer can ask for…”
Quincy Jones

George Benson began his professional career singing, dancing and playing the ukulele in nightclubs at the tender age of eight. At age seventeen he formed a rock band using a guitar made by his stepfather. As Benson was exposed to music by Charlie Parker, Montgomery and Christian, his interest in jazz came as no surprise to many. In 1962 a teenaged Benson joined Brother Jack McDuff’s band. By 1965 Benson formed his own group and was discovered by talent scout John Hammond. Benson would record two critically acclaimed albums of the soul-jazz and hard bop genre for Columbia as well as being included on recording sessions with others such as Miles Davis’ “Miles in the sky”. Benson switched to Verve records in 1967, and shortly after the death of Montgomery in June 1968, producer Creed Taylor began recording Benson with larger ensembles on A&M and big groups and all-star combos on CTI between 1971-1976. By this time Benson’s own ideas and creativity had begun to grow. He explains:

“I’d been screaming about my guitar sound for years, and they didn’t want to hear about it. I wanted to use my band in the studio, just get comfortable and test out some stuff. But it was like pulling teeth. The first time I tried to sing along with my guitar, everybody in the studio booed. They said that it wouldn’t work. When I got with Tommy Lipuma (Warner Brothers) all that changed. He said ‘Sure, let’s go with some vocals, see where we get.’ And you know what happened after that.”

The album Breezin’ became the first jazz record to obtain platinum sales status, with the sole vocal track “This Masquerade” receiving substantial attention from commercial radio. Benson had certainly reached a larger audience, but breaking new ground was not well received by many purists:

“I guess that’s the biggest crime I’ve made as far as jazz lovers go,” offers Benson. “They don’t always like to see you play for the general public. They want to be catered to. But I’ve tried that approach and it doesn’t work for me. Nobody can stay one way for 30 years. I’ve tried to let my experience show itself. You learn, you change. The door opened and I walked through it.”

Benson’s commercial successes continued throughout the 1980’s, the highlight being the Quincy Jones produced smash “Give Me The Night”. But as the 80’s drew to a close questions were mounting about Benson’s seemingly continued quest for greater commercial success (if possible). Benson silenced these critics with the release of his standards album “Tenderly” in 1989 and the swinging “Big Boss Band” album with the Basie band in 1990. Both albums would see the return of Benson’s guitar to the forefront of many compositions.

Benson followed Tommy Lipuma to the GRP label in the mid-‘90s. The two had formed a successful commercial bond that they both wanted to sustain. In 1996, GRP released the acclaimed cotemporary jazz album “That’s Right”.

George Benson is an eight-time Grammy Award winner who just keeps going. He is a diverse and unpredictable artist who has influenced musicians from varying genres.
Benson’s acclaim both commercially and within the critical Jazz world continues. He continues to release beautifully crafted material and sell out concerts around the globe.

Robin Francis
© Michael Valentine Studio Ltd.

George Benson

George Benson George Benson


George Benson

George Benson

George Benson

George Benson

George Benson

George Benson

George Benson


Recommended
Listening

 

George Benson & Al Jarreau - Givin' it up George Benson - Absolute Benson George Benson - That's Right
George Benson - While the city  sleeps George Benson - In Your Eyes George Benson - 20/20 George Benson / Earl Klugh - Collaboration -
George Benson - Give Me The Night George Benson - Breezin' George Benson - Weekend  in LA George Benson - In Flight
George Benson - The Instrumentals George Benson - Bad Benson George Benson - Body Talk George Benson - Big Boss Band
George Benson - Beyond the Blue Horizon George Benson - Collection George Benson - Cookbook George Benson - Giblet Gravy
George Benson / Lonnie Smith /  Joe Lovano - Afrodesia George Benson - White Rabbit George Benson - It's Uptown George Benson - The Other Side of Abbey Road
George Benson - Jazz Masters 21 George Benson - The New Boss Guitar George Benson - Standing Together George Benson - In Concert @ Carnegie Hall

 

Further
Recommended
Viewing

  Click George Benson's images to see him @ the St. Lucia Jazz Festival 2009...

George Benson @ the St. Lucia Jazz Festival 2009 (click to go to this page) George Benson @ the St. Lucia Jazz Festival 2009 (click to go to this page)

Go back to the London Blues Festival 2012 home page.

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