Absolute Benson

Absolute Benson

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by George Benson
     
 

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Taking a tip from 1999's pop-man-of-the-year Carlos Santana, guitarist George Benson goes Latin on his latest release. The slinky/gutsy rhythms do him good -- ULTIMATE BENSON turns out to be his liveliest disc in some time. First-rate sidemen don't hurt. On board are bassist Christian McBride, drummersSee more details below

Overview

Taking a tip from 1999's pop-man-of-the-year Carlos Santana, guitarist George Benson goes Latin on his latest release. The slinky/gutsy rhythms do him good -- ULTIMATE BENSON turns out to be his liveliest disc in some time. First-rate sidemen don't hurt. On board are bassist Christian McBride, drummers Steve Gadd and Cindy Blackman, and Claudia Acuna and India on backing vocals. To his credit, producer Tommy LiPuma never lets things get too smooth; the edge can be heard in Benson's inspired guitar and vocal work. But Benson's secret weapon is keyboardist and composer Joe Sample, who plays with considerable verve and contributes some terrific tunes, including "Deeper than you Think" "One on One" and "Hipping the Hop," which proves he's experiencing a midlife artistic resurgence. Benson responds in kind with strong displays of his sleek guitar playing and trademark guitar-vocal interplay. His vocals may be kept to a minimum, but he sounds plenty impassioned on the opening one-two punch of "The Ghetto" and "El Barrio," as well as the Ray Charles blues, "Come Back Baby." Throughout, Benson grabs hold of the material, just plain delighted to be digging in and playing again.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
George Benson is well embarked on the third phase of his career, and Absolute Benson, though unfortunately titled (it sounds like a compilation, but is actually an album of new recordings) is another in a series of consistently excellent CDs that characterize it. Benson excited traditional jazz fans in the 1960s and early '70s with his albums of inventive guitar playing on Columbia, A&M, and CTI, records that made him seem the logical successor to Wes Montgomery. Then, in 1976, he moved to Warner Bros. Records and recorded Breezin', featuring the single "This Masquerade," on which he sang, and suddenly he became a million-selling pop vocalist who happened to play guitar, seemingly the logical successor to Nat "King" Cole. That, of course, made him anathema to traditional jazz critics. After a decade, however, his pop success began to diminish, and by the end of the decade he was making another move -- to contemporary jazz. By the 1990s, he was restricting his vocal excursions to a few tracks on each disc, and his albums began to top the contemporary jazz album charts consistently. His move from Warner Bros. to GRP, a label devoted to contemporary jazz, confirmed the transition. Absolute Benson is his third GRP release, and on it he turns in a varied set, accompanied by Joe Sample on keyboards; Carlos Hernandez or Christian McBride on bass; Vidal Davis, Steve Gadd, or Cindy Blackman on drums; and Luis Conte or Luisito Quintero on percussion. Four of the nine tracks feature vocals of one sort or another. On the leadoff track, "The Ghetto," Benson (accompanied by five background vocalists) sings a few words, and on "Come Back Baby," he takes a real lead vocal, while on "El Barrio" and "Medicine Man" he only scats along with his guitar playing in his familiar style. But none of these performances is a conventional pop vocal performance. Similarly, Benson flirts with various pop music styles, covering Donny Hathaway's "The Ghetto," Stevie Wonder's "Lately," and Ray Charles' "Come Back Baby" for elements of R&B and blues, while "El Barrio" has a Latin feel. But he employs these styles as flavorings, the main course of which always remains his melodic guitar playing. His lead work in "Jazzenco" is particularly notable, but throughout the disc he plays with assurance in a manner his fans will recognize and appreciate. If it is difficult to crossover from jazz to pop, crossing back can be just as treacherous. Benson's oldest fans, who later became his detractors, still may not be satisfied with his current approach, but it has deservedly won him a secure place in contemporary jazz.

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Product Details

Release Date:
05/23/2000
Label:
Grp Records
UPC:
0731454358620
catalogNumber:
543586

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

George Benson   Primary Artist
Roy Ayers   Background Vocals
Ricky Peterson   Synthesizer,Hammond Organ
Joe Sample   Synthesizer,Piano,Hammond Organ
Cindy Blackman   Drums
Lisa Fischer   Background Vocals
Luis Conte   Percussion,Conga,Timbales
Steve Gadd   Drums
Christian McBride   Bass
Elliot Scheiner   Overdubs
Schmitt   Overdubs
Bill Schnee   Overdubs
Luisito Quintero   Percussion
Richard Shade   Background Vocals
Claudia Acuña   Background Vocals
Carlos Henríquez   Bass
Vidal Davis   Drums

Technical Credits

Donny Hathaway   Composer
Joe Henderson   Composer
Ricky Peterson   Synthesizer Arrangements
Joe Sample   Synthesizer Arrangements
Leroy Hutson   Composer
Steven Barkan   Engineer
Eaton   Composer
James Farber   Engineer
Jon Fausty   Engineer
Tommy LiPuma   Producer
Arif Mardin   Arranger
Doug Sax   Mastering
Elliot Scheiner   Engineer
Schmitt   Engineer
Todd Shaw   Composer
"Little" Louie Vega   Producer
Kenny Dope   Producer
Isabelle Wong   Graphic Design
Hollis King   Art Direction

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