VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases
04 SEP 09 ANNE FARNSWORTH
You could say George Benson invented contemporary jazz. Breezin', considered a classic of the genre, topped the Pop and R&B charts in 1976 because there wasn't yet a contemporary jazz category. With his latest release, Songs And Stories, he knocks it out of the park again.
Some artists change their styles during the course of their careers. With Benson, you don't want him to change a thing. From the opening track, a cover of James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," the mellow groove of Benson's guitar and vocals hit that spot in our soul that relaxes the mind while setting the body in motion. I defy anyone to listen to this CD without at least indulging in a little chair dancing.
Several contemporary jazz all-stars contribute to this release, starting with bassist Marcus Miller, who also co-produced. Saxophonists Gerald Albright and Tom Scott, as well as singers Patty Austin and Lalah Hathaway are some of the name talent who are featured.
On "A Telephone Call Away," a duet with Hathaway, Benson opens up his vocals to add a blusey talk/sing aspect to his familiar instrumental-style vocals. But there's still plenty of his patented guitar/voice soli scatting to satisfy longtime fans. This longtime fan wouldn't have it any other way.
A Telephone Call Away
George Benson, from Songs and Stories
Marcus Miller, from Marcus
Cheaper To Keep Her
Gerald Albright, from Sax for Stax
Lalah Hathaway, from Self Portrait
in this playlist.