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George Benson - Bad Benson

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Bad Benson

George Benson

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Preceding Breezin', his crossover smash for Warner in 1976, Bad Benson shows the guitarist still hanging on to his Wes Montgomery roots in places while stretching his soul-jazz persona into even funkier arenas. CTI had a formula for making funky, accessible jazz and fusion records that in 1974 still held true. Arranged by Don Sebesky, Bad Benson is a collection of delicious, varied, and sometimes confusing choices. Benson's own playing is precise and smooth as always, and guitarist Phil Upchurch keeps a large color palette for him to draw from, as in the funkified version of "Take Five." Other notables are the stellar "My Latin Brother," which begins as a Debussy-ian impressionistic string study before becoming a heavily arpeggiated variation on the samba. Kenny Barron's pianism here is the driving force behind a rhythm section that also includes drummer Steve Gadd and bassist Ron Carter. They give Benson a harmonic floor for one of the most inspiring solos of his career. These intensely meaty cuts -- along with Upchurch's stellar swinging in the pocket groover "Full Compass" -- are juxtaposed against ballads such as "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams" and "The Changing World," a pair of ballads that ape Montgomery's later snore-fest session for A&M. Not a great album, but a very, very good one. [Some reissues include three bonus tracks from the session: a hip and syncopated read of "Take the 'A' Train" (with truly surreal and shimmering colors courtesy of Sebesky's string section) and the amazingly driving, greasy funk of "Serbian Blue," as well as a simply beautiful -- and brief -- solo from Benson called "From Now On."]
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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Bad Benson

George Benson

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1
Take Five (Album Version)
00:07:08

Jesse Levy, Acoustic Cello - Margaret Ross, Harp - Paul Desmond, Composer - Paul Desmond, Lyricist - Charles McCracken, Acoustic Cello - Wayne Andre, Trombone - Brooks Tillitson, French Horn - Joe Shepley, Trumpet - Creed Taylor, Producer - John Frosk, Trumpet - Garnett Brown, Trombone - Kenny Barron, Piano - Seymour Barab, Acoustic Cello - Alan Rubin, Trumpet - Phil Bodner, Flute - Phil Bodner, Clarinet - Phil Bodner, English Horn - Jim Buffington, French Horn - Ray Beckenstein, Flute - Ray Beckenstein, Clarinet - Ray Beckenstein, English Horn - Alan Schulman, Celesta - Ron Carter, Bass - Phil Upchurch, Guitar - Steve Gadd, Drums - Paul Tobias, Acoustic Cello - Frank Levy, Acoustic Cello - George Benson, Electric Guitar - George Benson, Performer

(P) 1974 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

2
Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (Album Version)
00:02:56

George Benson, Performer - J. Mandel, Composer - J. Mandel, Lyricist - Creed Taylor, Producer - M. Bergman, Composer - M. Bergman, Lyricist - A. Bergman, Composer - A. Bergman, Lyricist

(P) 1974 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

3
My Latin Brother (Album Version)
00:06:48

George Benson, Performer - Creed Taylor, Producer - G. Benson, Composer - G. Benson, Lyricist

(P) 1974 Epic Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

4
No Sooner Said Than Done (Album Version)
00:05:59

George Benson, Performer - Creed Taylor, Producer - P. Upchurch, Composer - P. Upchurch, Lyricist

(P) 1974 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

5
Full Compass (Album Version)
00:05:39

George Benson, Performer - Creed Taylor, Producer - P. Upchurch, Composer - P. Upchurch, Lyricist

(P) 1974 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

6
The Changing World (Album Version)
00:04:53

George Benson, Performer - Creed Taylor, Producer - G. Benson, Composer - G. Benson, Lyricist - A. Gore, Composer - A. Gore, Lyricist

(P) 1974 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

7
Take the "A" Train (Album Version)
00:04:12

Jesse Levy, Acoustic Cello - Margaret Ross, Harp - Charles McCracken, Acoustic Cello - Wayne Andre, Trombone - Brooks Tillitson, French Horn - Billy Strayhorn, Composer - Billy Strayhorn, Lyricist - Joe Shepley, Trumpet - Creed Taylor, Producer - John Frosk, Trumpet - Garnett Brown, Trombone - Kenny Barron, Piano - Seymour Barab, Acoustic Cello - Alan Rubin, Trumpet - Phil Bodner, Flute - Phil Bodner, Clarinet - Phil Bodner, English Horn - Jim Buffington, French Horn - Ray Beckenstein, Flute - Ray Beckenstein, Clarinet - Ray Beckenstein, English Horn - Ron Carter, Bass - Phil Upchurch, Guitar - Alan Shulman, Acoustic Cello - Steve Gadd, Drums - Paul Tobias, Acoustic Cello - Warren Covington, Trombone - Frank Levy, Acoustic Cello - George Benson, Performer - George Marge, Flute - George Marge, Clarinet - George Marge, English Horn

(P) 2002 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

8
Serbian Blue (Album Version)
00:13:02

George Benson, Performer - Creed Taylor, Producer - Don Sebesky, Composer - Don Sebesky, Lyricist

(P) 2002 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

9
From Now On (Album Version)
00:02:21

George Benson, Performer - Creed Taylor, Producer - G. Benson, Composer - G. Benson, Lyricist

(P) 2002 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Album Description

Preceding Breezin', his crossover smash for Warner in 1976, Bad Benson shows the guitarist still hanging on to his Wes Montgomery roots in places while stretching his soul-jazz persona into even funkier arenas. CTI had a formula for making funky, accessible jazz and fusion records that in 1974 still held true. Arranged by Don Sebesky, Bad Benson is a collection of delicious, varied, and sometimes confusing choices. Benson's own playing is precise and smooth as always, and guitarist Phil Upchurch keeps a large color palette for him to draw from, as in the funkified version of "Take Five." Other notables are the stellar "My Latin Brother," which begins as a Debussy-ian impressionistic string study before becoming a heavily arpeggiated variation on the samba. Kenny Barron's pianism here is the driving force behind a rhythm section that also includes drummer Steve Gadd and bassist Ron Carter. They give Benson a harmonic floor for one of the most inspiring solos of his career. These intensely meaty cuts -- along with Upchurch's stellar swinging in the pocket groover "Full Compass" -- are juxtaposed against ballads such as "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams" and "The Changing World," a pair of ballads that ape Montgomery's later snore-fest session for A&M. Not a great album, but a very, very good one. [Some reissues include three bonus tracks from the session: a hip and syncopated read of "Take the 'A' Train" (with truly surreal and shimmering colors courtesy of Sebesky's string section) and the amazingly driving, greasy funk of "Serbian Blue," as well as a simply beautiful -- and brief -- solo from Benson called "From Now On."]
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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