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The Irreplaceable Session - EP

George Benson

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Album Review

A few decades ago, when the release of a George Benson album was an event for either jazz guitar or R&B vocal enthusiasts, his projects indeed lived up to the album title he employs here. While the new collection probably won't be an essential part of the Benson enthusiast's library, it's fun to see him trying to stay in the post-millennial urban groove hip with some of the younger generation's top songwriter/producers like Joshua Thompson (who's produced for O-Town, Aretha Franklin, and Babyface) and Joe. Those who wish he'd remember his prowess as a jazz guitarist have to content themselves with its general background capacity behind pleasant romantic vocal textures and easy grooving hip-hop shuffle grooves. Fortunately, Benson's in particularly fine voice, and most of the hooks are catchy from the get go. Conceptually, the best tunes are "Six Play" (which we soon realize is a love song to his six-string) and "Cell Phone," postulating the idea that God and our late loved ones are accessible by wireless. There are a few stylistic deviations from the basic cool formula here, most notably the gospel-tinged "Whole Man," and the lush, gently exotic, flamenco-flavored soul tune "Strings of Love." The hope is that Benson's collaborations with the "hipsters" will expose his commercialized talents to the kids who might otherwise shy away from the charms of an elder statesman. [The disc was also issued in a version that contained one bonus track: a club mix of "Cell Phone" by Blacksmith.]

Biography

Born: March 22, 1943 in Pittsburgh, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

George Benson is simply one of the greatest guitarists in jazz history, but he is also an amazingly versatile musician, and that frustrates to no end critics who would paint him into a narrow bop box. He can play in just about any style — from swing to bop to R&B to pop — with supreme taste, a beautiful rounded tone, terrific speed, a marvelous sense of logic in building solos, and, always, an unquenchable urge to swing. His inspirations may have been Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery...
Full Bio

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