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The Best of George Benson

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Album Review

The Best covers the years 1969-1970, the years A&M was affiliated with Creed Taylor's CTI. Often with Taylor productions, an individual player's style was muted due to the overpowering and often overly orchestrated productions. To make matters even more curious, young Benson stepped into the production scheme and style that typified Wes Montgomery's last three recordings. If anything, the differences between Benson and Montgomery were clear. Montgomery was more vivid and swung harder, and the lows were more extreme. The Best shows that Benson, in contrast, was all but a blank canvas, with his style evolving on some of these very tracks. That being said, this is hit-or-miss stuff. On "Shapes of Things to Come," Benson's quick playing works great in contrast to the song's spacy and oh so "groovy" production. As for mind-blowing concepts, The Best takes the finest songs from Benson's surreal but fun 1969 album, The Other Side of Abbey Road ("You Never Give Me Your Money" fares the best). Other tracks like "My Cherie Amour" and "Footin' It" benefit from stronger production that enlivens his playing. The album's last track, a cover of Aretha Franklin's "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream," has Benson making a great impression, despite the ridiculous horn charts. No doubt this 1981 release was designed to piggyback on Benson's sales and success at Warner Bros. From the perspective of obtaining relatively early work from one of the finest guitar players, The Best isn't half bad.


Born: 22 March 1943 in Pittsburgh, PA

Genre: Jazz

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

Simply one of the greatest guitarists in jazz history, George Benson is an amazingly versatile musician, whose adept skills find him crossing easily between straight-ahead jazz, smooth jazz, and contemporary R&B. Blessed with supreme taste, a beautiful, rounded guitar tone, terrific speed, a marvelous sense of logic in building solos, and, always, an unquenchable urge to swing, Benson's inspirations may have been Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery, but his style is completely his own. Not only...
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