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Jazz - Released June 11, 2004 | Columbia - Legacy

Jazz Moods: Hot is a budget release in the Sony Jazz Moods series that showcases ten tunes from Benson's residency at Columbia and CTI circa 1966 to 1976. It's an interesting mix of pop covers and jazz standards and brilliantly foreshadows Benson's smooth jazz and pop excursions that were to come later on in his career. And while every track here is of the highest caliber, there is nothing surprising that die-hard Benson fans wouldn't already own. Regardless, it makes perfect sense economically to purchase this over many of the more deluxe packages out there, especially if your interest in Benson is mild at best. © Rob Theakston /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 22, 1994 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
While George Benson's solid jazz reputation supposedly rests on his early John Hammond-produced Columbia albums, one listen to this disc will reveal that his interests roamed widely from the beginning. Yes, there is plenty of straightforward bop playing here, with Benson stretching his technical chops on "Hello Birdie" and "Myna Bird Blues" and ruminating thoughtfully on "Willow Weep for Me." But Benson also had an interest in quasi-rock & roll, producing Wes-like octaves on "Young Jaguar," and some Bo Diddley-in-Spain rhythm chording on "Bullfight." The young Benson sounds pure and mellifluous on three vocal numbers, the basic elements of his later successes mostly in place. Yet Benson's backing combo doesn't click on all cylinders; Lonnie Smith is reliable on organ but Ronnie Cuber's blunt baritone sax is rather cumbersome here. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 22, 1994 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
The second of Benson's John Hammond-produced albums is far and away the superior of the pair, mixing down-to-basics, straight-ahead jazz with soul-drenched grooving. Suddenly Benson's backup group - same as that of Uptown, with Benny Green added on trombone now and then - has found its bearings and apropos to the title, they can cook, even sizzle. The effect upon Benson's own playing is striking; with something to react against, his sheer ability to swing advances into the realm of awesome. The rapid-fire work on "The Cooker" and "Ready And Able" will make you gasp. Only one vocal here, an exuberant "All Of Me." [In mid-2001 Columbia/Legacy reissued this 1966 classic, along with It's Uptown, recorded only several months earlier. Four bonus tracks include a (previously unreleased) doo wop vocal rendition of Little Willie John's "Let Them Talk" and two Benson originals that are pure rock-n-roll: "The Man from Toledo" and "Goodnight." Two of the bonus cuts are preceded by control-booth comments from the session's legendary producer, John Hammond.] © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 8, 2016 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released March 28, 2006 | Columbia - Legacy

The Essential George Benson covers 28 years and spans two discs, so it lives up to its claim of having the widest scope of all the Benson compilations that surfaced before it. While it's impressive that Columbia/Legacy didn't merely mine Columbia and CTI dates, and licensed material from Warner Bros. and Prestige as well (the brief Verve period is unrepresented), you could also say that the label also spread itself thin, with several crucial moments in Benson's career unable to fit. If Columbia/Legacy were honest, they'd position this as more of a sampler with a few curve balls. No matter what era you prefer, you're going to come up short, and it's not as if most people who are curious about Benson are going to be open-minded enough to appreciate both "Clockwise" and the vastly different "Give Me the Night." Some of the surprise selections, which almost outnumber the obvious ones, include an alternate take of "Ode to a Kudu," "Hip Skip" (from Tony Williams' late-'70s Joy of Flying), "Rock Candy" (from Brother Jack McDuff Live!), and "Paraphernalia" (a bizarre pick for any form of anthology, from Miles Davis' Miles in the Sky). Even casual fans won't have to think too hard about essential cuts that aren't here -- "Durham's Turn," "Nature Boy," "The World Is a Ghetto," "Love X Love," and on and on, but the majority of what's here cannot be challenged. This is a way to begin -- not wrap up -- your fascination with Benson. It is representative of the breadth of his career from 1963 through 1980, but it could have just as easily been done a dozen other ways. The sound is vibrant, and Benson's track-by-track commentary adds a nice touch. © Andy Kellman /TiVo