Get this crazy baby off my head!


George Benson


George Benson - Beyond The Blue Horizon - 1971 - CTI Records

Back in the late 60s, George Benson was considered the natural successor to Wes Montgomery. Bensons mastery of funk, his smooth tone and fluent harmonic conception marked him out as the next big thing in jazz guitar. Except it didnt quite turn out that way of course; the mid 70s saw George recasting himself as a smooth jazz soul balladeer who happened to play a bit of guitar. Much like Nat King Cole a couple of decades earlier, Benson was able to make the transition from jazz to commercial success, and who can blame him (bet hes got a better pension plan than Jim Hall...). Anyway, rewind to 1971 and here's George in full flight with Miles Davis alumni Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette, organist Clarence Palmer and the obligatory brace of latin percussionists. Unlike the occasional cocktail vibe of some of his other CTI releases, Benson is on fiery form throughout, adopting a trebly, occasionally biting tone, soaked with blues, juicy Wes like octave phrases and speedy bop runs. His solo on "The Gentle Rain" (written by Luis Bonfa, better known for "Black Orpheus") is a peach; nibbling out bluesy chromatics and exaggerated vibrato, sometimes firing off rapid chordal volleys. "Ode to a Kudu" is a restrained chordal outing, somewhere between Joe Pass, BB King and James Blood Ulmer. The latters skewed Delta Blues harmolodics are evoked in "Somewhere in the East", where a spot of retuning gives the guitar a sour, oud like sound (even though the melody hints at "Strangers in the Night"). Bensons at his most exploratory here (especially on the bonus longer out take included here). Palmers bass pedals take care of most of the bass parts, while Carter yends to stick to odd glissed phrases with the bow (which is sometimes not a great idea), or high pizzicato figures shadowing Bensons guitar. Hes at his best holding down the bottom end on the second take of the lovely "All Clear", or the opening "So What", where he gets a long duet in with the ever reliable DeJohnette, who seems happiest when Ron is in swinging mode. Palmer is restrained throughout, opting for a soft, warm tone, but theres no doubt whose show this is. A reminder that though Georges career switch may have made him considerably richer, it left the jazz world a bit poorer. Recommended. © Peter Marsh 2002-11-20 http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/3qvr

Having taken Benson along with him when he founded CTI, Creed Taylor merely leaves the guitarist alone with a small group on his first release. The payoff is a superb jazz session where Benson rises to the challenge of the turbulent rhythm section of Jack DeJohnette and Ron Carter, with Clarence Palmer ably manning the organ. Benson is clearly as much at home with DeJohnette's advanced playing as he was in soul/jazz (after all, he did play on some Miles Davis sessions a few years before), and his tone is edgier, with more bite, than it had been for awhile. The lyrical Benson is also on eloquent display in "Ode to a Kudu" (heard twice on the CD, as is "All Clear"), and there is even a somewhat experimental tilt toward Afro-Cuban-Indian rhythms in "Somewhere to the East." A must-hear for all aficionados of Benson's guitar. © Richard S. Ginell © 2010 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/beyond-the-blue-horizon-r30386

Before George Benson became involved in his more vocal/smooth jazz style, he recorded some amazing jazz guitar albums. "Beyond The Blue Horizon" from 1971 is one such album, and is VHR by A.O.O.F.C. George Benson can play the most complex pieces effortlessly, and is up there with guitarists of the calibre of Jan Akkerman, Jeff Beck, and Robben Ford among others. If you would like to hear the early George Benson's superb jazz guitar, listen to his 1965 "It's Uptown" album. If you are more interested in his later smooth jazz/vocal style, then his "Give Me the Night" album is a superb example. Interestingly, the brilliant session guitarist Jon Herington (Steely Dan, etc,) has said that he regards George Benson as "the greatest guitarist on the planet". Check out Jon's "Pulse and Cadence" album on this blog


A1 So What? - M. Davis 9:05
A2 The Gentle Rain (from the movie of the same title) - L.Bonfa 9:05
B1 All Clear - G.Benson 5:15
B2 Ode To A Kudu - G.Benson 3:45
B3 Somewhere In The East - G.Benson 6:05
6 All Clear (Alt. Take) - G.Benson 5:45 [Bonus Track]
7 Ode To A Kudu (Alt. Take) - G.Benson 4:38 [Bonus Track]
8 Somewhere In The East (Alt. Take) - G.Benson 9:53 [Bonus Track] *

* N.B: Not included on all CD reissues


Guitar - George Benson
Bass - Ron Carter
Organ - Clarence Palmer
Drums - Jack DeJohnette
Percussion - Albert Nicholson, Michael Cameron


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 -- and he can do dead-on impressions of both -- but his style is completely his own. Not only can he play lead brilliantly, he is also one of the best rhythm guitarists around, supportive to soloists and a dangerous swinger, particularly in a soul-jazz format. Yet Benson can also sing in a lush soulful tenor with mannerisms similar to those of Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, and it is his voice that has proved to be more marketable to the public than his guitar. Benson is the guitar-playing equivalent of Nat King Cole -- a fantastic pianist whose smooth way with a pop vocal eventually eclipsed his instrumental prowess in the marketplace -- but unlike Cole, Benson has been granted enough time after his fling with the pop charts to reaffirm his jazz guitar credentials, which he still does at his concerts. Benson actually started out professionally as a singer, performing in nightclubs at eight, recording four sides for RCA's X label in 1954, forming a rock band at 17 while using a guitar that his stepfather made for him. Exposure to records by Christian, Montgomery, and Charlie Parker got him interested in jazz, and by 1962, the teenaged Benson was playing in Brother Jack McDuff's band. After forming his own group in 1965, Benson became another of talent scout John Hammond's major discoveries, recording two highly regarded albums of soul-jazz and hard bop for Columbia and turning up on several records by others, including Miles Davis' Miles in the Sky. He switched to Verve in 1967, and, shortly after the death of Montgomery in June 1968, producer Creed Taylor began recording Benson with larger ensembles on A&M (1968-1969) and big groups and all-star combos on CTI (1971-1976). While the A&M and CTI albums certainly earned their keep and made Benson a guitar star in the jazz world, the mass market didn't catch on until he began to emphasize vocals after signing with Warner Bros. in 1976. His first album for Warner Bros., Breezin', became a Top Ten hit on the strength of its sole vocal track, "This Masquerade," and this led to a string of hit albums in an R&B-flavored pop mode, culminating with the Quincy Jones-produced Give Me the Night. As the '80s wore on, though, Benson's albums became riddled with commercial formulas and inferior material, with his guitar almost entirely relegated to the background. Perhaps aware of the futility of chasing the charts (after all, "This Masquerade" was a lucky accident), Benson reversed his field late in the '80s to record a fine album of standards, Tenderly, and another with the Basie band, his guitar now featured more prominently. His pop-flavored work also improved noticeably in the '90s. Benson retains the ability to spring surprises on his fans and critics, like his dazzlingly idiomatic TV appearance and subsequent record date with Benny Goodman in 1975 in honor of John Hammond, and his awesome command of the moment at several Playboy Jazz Festivals in the 1980s. His latter-day recordings include the 1998 effort Standing Together, 2000's Absolute Benson, 2001's All Blues, and 2004's Irreplaceable. Three songs from 2006's Givin' It Up, recorded with Al Jarreau, were nominated for Grammy Awards in separate categories. Richard S. Ginell © 2010 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/artist/george-benson-p6098/biography


A.O.O.F.C said...


p/w aoofc

guinea pig said...

A peaceful Christmas to you and your loved ones, and let shine be in your soul. Thank you for the music!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,guinea pig. Thank you very much. I also wish you and the ones dear to you a peaceful and happy Christmas time. Take care of yourself. All the very best....P.