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Jazz - To be released July 9, 2021 | Craft Recordings

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Jazz - Released April 30, 2021 | Craft Recordings

Guitar Man, George Benson's second offering for Concord stands in contrast to 2009's Songs and Stories, though is not an about face. While the earlier album focused on Benson's proven, decades-long formula for pop and smooth jazz -- a group of of easy grooving tunes featuring his silky voice and shimmering guitar work -- this set focuses (primarily) on Benson as a contemporary jazz guitarist. While slickly produced by John Burk, this full-length is an ambitious but readily accessible collection with lithe, languid grooves and stellar playing. Primarily arranged by musical director/keyboardist David Garfield, Guitar Man contains eight instrumentals, which include beautiful solo readings of the standards "Tenderly," which opens the disc, and "Danny Boy." There is a lush, balladic, string-laden arrangement of the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" -- a consciously chosen reminder of Benson's work at A&M. Another highlight is his very contemporary but digified reading of John Coltrane's "Naima," which is simply gorgeous. It begins largely solo before the band enters halfway through, led by Harvey Mason's empathic drumming. The reading of "Tequila" here is warm, funky, and fun, with fine piano work by Joe Sample and percussion by Lenny Castro. Likewise, the reading of Arlen's and Harburg's "Paper Moon" displays beautiful interplay between Benson and Sample. Of the vocal tunes, the cover of Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour" is the standout, but "My One and Only Love," with a long solo guitar intro, is very fine too. The set ends with two vocal tunes that contrast nicely. First is a very soulful treatment of the Buddy Johnson nugget "Since I Fell for You," with his voice and guitar accompanied only by Garfield's piano. Guitar Man finishes with Ronnie Foster's Latin-tinged groover "Fingerlero." Sample, Mason, and Castro star on the tune and Benson scats in trademark tandem with his guitar lines, sending it off in a contemporary jazz mode. As a guitarist, Benson is still at the top of his game; his musical eclecticism and his on-target accessibility are refined and equally reflected here. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 13, 2020 | Provogue

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Recorded at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in 2019, Weekend in London captures legendary singer/guitarist George Benson in an intimate performance that marks his first official concert recording in 30 years. Produced by Kevin Shirley, the album finds Benson framed in illustrious fashion, backed by a funky jazz ensemble, strings, and a horn section. In many ways, the record brings to mind his classic 1978 live album Weekend in L.A. and finds him reinvestigating many of his most beloved recordings. The album opens with an effusive take on his 1980 hit "Give Me the Night" that perfectly sets the tone for the vintage '70s and early-'80s soul-jazz vibes that follow. We get equally inspired readings of cuts like "Turn Your Love Around," "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You," and "Never Give Up on a Good Thing." Benson also dips into his varied catalog, offering a rendition of Dave Bartholomew's "I Hear You Knocking" off his 2019 album Walking to New Orleans: Remembering Chuck Berry and Fats Domino, as well as a stirring take on Donny Hathaway's "The Ghetto," which he first covered on 2000's Absolute Benson. Although 76 years old at the time of recording, Benson sounds as engaged as ever, even as his bright tenor croon has gained just a modicum of grit and gravitas in the years since Weekend in L.A. marked him as an R&B superstar. Weekend in London is a fitting showcase for Benson's smooth jazz skills and a further reminder of his soulful legacy. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 13, 2020 | Provogue Records

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Recorded at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in 2019, Weekend in London captures legendary singer/guitarist George Benson in an intimate performance that marks his first official concert recording in 30 years. Produced by Kevin Shirley, the album finds Benson framed in illustrious fashion, backed by a funky jazz ensemble, strings, and a horn section. In many ways, the record brings to mind his classic 1978 live album Weekend in L.A. and finds him reinvestigating many of his most beloved recordings. The album opens with an effusive take on his 1980 hit "Give Me the Night" that perfectly sets the tone for the vintage '70s and early-'80s soul-jazz vibes that follow. We get equally inspired readings of cuts like "Turn Your Love Around," "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You," and "Never Give Up on a Good Thing." Benson also dips into his varied catalog, offering a rendition of Dave Bartholomew's "I Hear You Knocking" off his 2019 album Walking to New Orleans: Remembering Chuck Berry and Fats Domino, as well as a stirring take on Donny Hathaway's "The Ghetto," which he first covered on 2000's Absolute Benson. Although 76 years old at the time of recording, Benson sounds as engaged as ever, even as his bright tenor croon has gained just a modicum of grit and gravitas in the years since Weekend in L.A. marked him as an R&B superstar. Weekend in London is a fitting showcase for Benson's smooth jazz skills and a further reminder of his soulful legacy. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 3, 2020 | Provogue Records

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Blues - Released April 26, 2019 | Provogue Records

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From his origins as Wes Montgomery’s worthy heir to the funky Give Me the Night, his cover of On Broadway, his partnering with Al Jarreau, his participation on the Gorillaz’s The Now Now and his tributes to Nat King Cole, George Benson has always shown that he handles large tasks with ease. But above all, he remains one of the best jazz guitarists of his generation, whatever the style. At 76 years old, the funky virtuoso from Pittsburgh pays homage to the Mecca of music, New Orleans, and two pioneers of rock’n’roll that were lost to the world in 2017, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. The record features ten covers by the two geniuses that George Benson performs with a sense of refinement. His bluesy style and ferocious skill are even held back slightly. In its place the guitarist offers a tribute of class, temperance and subtlety. ©Max Dembo/Qobuz
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Blues - Released April 26, 2019 | Provogue Records

Following up 2013's urbane Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole, George Benson returns with another tribute production, 2019's ebullient Walking to New Orleans: Remembering Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. Interestingly, while Benson is best known for his funky instrumental jazz of the '70s and '80s, and smooth R&B crooning of the '80s and '90s, both of these latter-career tributes find him tackling material from even older traditions. Where Inspiration was a lushly swinging standards album, Walking to New Orleans is all blues grit and old-school R&B swagger. Though primarily influenced by jazz artists like Wes Montgomery and Charlie Christian, Benson certainly owes at least a modicum of his soulful style to early rock legends Berry and Domino, both of whom helped shape the sound of modern rock and pop music. As Benson grew up in Pittsburgh, the album's title evokes a conceptual travelogue as he moves from the Midwest through Berry's home state of Missouri, all the way down South to Domino's hometown of New Orleans. To help achieve this rootsy trek, Benson worked with producer Kevin Shirley (John Hiatt, Aerosmith, Joe Bonamassa) at Nashville's Ocean Way Studios, where he also conscripted the assistance of pros like drummer/music director Greg Morrow, guitarist Rob McNelley, pianist Kevin McKendree, and bassist Alison Prestwood. The results are loose and straightforward as Benson (primarily showcased here as a singer) takes on Berry favorites like "Walking," "Nadine (Is It You?)," and "Memphis, Tennessee," as well as Domino hits like "Ain't That a Shame," "I Heart You Knocking," and "Blue Monday." These are earthy and robust productions that never stray too far afield of their rock & roll source. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Blues - Released March 28, 2019 | Provogue Records

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Soul - Released October 19, 2018 | CLASSIC WORLD ENTERTAINMENT

George Benson was at his peak as a jazz guitarist in 1972, when the music that comprises Classic World's Live: Early Years was recorded. This particular disc contains highlights from a San Francisco concert, and there are some very nice moments on the album. However, the audio quality is poor, as is the packaging, which means this disc will only be of interest to hardcore collectors -- and they may be dismayed that this doesn't contain a complete concert. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Soul - Released July 19, 2018 | HHO

Jazz - Released January 1, 2018 | Hi Hat

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Jazz - Released September 30, 2016 | Westmill

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Jazz - Released July 8, 2016 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released December 1, 2015 | Sotelysa Digital

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Jazz - Released December 1, 2015 | Sotelysa Digital

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Rock - Released October 30, 2015 | Reviver Records

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Pop - Released February 27, 2015 | Rhino - Warner Records

The Ultimate Collection is quite different from the two-disc George Benson overviews that preceded it, including The George Benson Anthology. Like that 2000-released set, this one was also issued through Rhino, though there are only 17 tracks of overlap. The Ultimate Collection has even less in common with Legacy's The Essential George Benson (2006), which naturally favors Benson's Columbia and CTI output. The heart here is 1976-1983, an era during which Benson recorded for Warner and was regularly listed in the Top Ten of the Billboard R&B singles chart. All of those tremendous major hits are here, as are some less popular but solid A-sides and deeper cuts from that period. Only one selection, "White Rabbit," predates the 1976 commercial breakthrough "Breezin'," while several of Benson's varied albums from 20/20 through Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole, released on Warner, GRP, and Concord, among other labels, are represented in some form. The smart selections, along with the liner notes, make for a fine representation of Benson's career from the late '70s through 2013. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Jazz - Released December 2, 2014 | LRC Ltd. - Groove Merchant Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Concord Records

George Benson's place as one of the greatest and most successful guitarists in the history of jazz is secure, but what's easy to forget sometimes is that he began his career as a vocalist, and if this release, a tribute to Nat King Cole, comes as any kind of surprise, it shouldn't. Benson's and Cole's careers are remarkably similar, both becoming known first as instrumentalists, Cole as a pianist, and Benson, of course, as a guitarist, with both eventually easing into the pop mainstream because of their voices. Cole was a one of a kind vocalist, of course, and even Benson wouldn't claim to equal him as a singer, but Benson has a similarly soothing and lush tenor voice that more than holds its own on these familiar songs. The album is bookended by two versions of the Cole classic "Mona Lisa," the first a rare recording of Benson at the age of eight singing it sweetly and charmingly while playing ukulele, while the album closes with a full big-band, Nelson Riddle-arranged orchestral version that also features some sweet guitar from Benson. In between are warm, smooth, and soothing versions of "Walking My Baby Back Home" and "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter," a bouncing and bopping "Route 66," and nice takes on "Unforgettable" (featuring Wynton Marsalis), "When I Fall in Love" (featuring Idina Menzel), "Smile" (featuring Till Brönner), and "Too Young" (featuring Judith Hill), all given the full big-band orchestral treatment from the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra conducted by Randy Waldman (Waldman also arranged several of the pieces here). It all adds up to a sweet and very impressive album, full of warmth and heart, and it swings where it should. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 25, 2012 | Newborn