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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Prestige 0888072240728

1. Shadow Dancers
2. The Sweet Alice Blues
3. I Don't Know
4. Just Another Sunday
5. Will You Still Be Mine?
6. Easy Living
7. Rock-a-Bye
8. Hot Barbecue
9. The Party's Over
10. Briar Patch
11. Hippy Dip
12. 601 1/2 No. Poplar
13. Cry Me A River
14. The Three Day Thang
George Benson - Guitar
Jack McDuff - Organ, piano (tracks 3-14)
Red Holloway - Tenor sax
Ronnie Boykins - Bass (tracks 1-7)
Montego Joe - Drums, percussion (tracks 1-7)
Joe Dukes - Drums (tracks 8-14)


Two remastered albums on one CD at mid-price make for good value - especially if you like music that is not only intelligent but also rhythmic enough to keep your feet tapping. The first seven tracks originally appeared on a 1964 LP entitled The New Boss Guitar of George Benson (although that album contained eight tracks: it's a mystery why this reissue omits My Three Sons). Tracks 8 to 14 comprised a 1965 album entitled Hot Barbeque - Brother Jack McDuff. The former album was George Benson's first outing as a leader and it shows that he was already an accomplished guitarist. His guitar sound was clear and full-bodied: eloquent in solos and comping busily behind other soloists, judiciously mixing chords and single lines. Benson's three-year stint with Jack McDuff's quartet established him in jazz circles and the two men's togetherness can be heard throughout this CD.

I seem to have heard a lot of Jack McDuff reissues recently, but then he was a popular and prolific recording artist in the 1960s. His Hammond organ is sometimes marred by fuzziness but his bluesy feeling imbues every track with down-home swing. That blues sensibility also pervades the playing of tenorist Red Hoilloway, who adds some punchy solos to many tunes. Some tracks are catchy tunes clearly aimed at the popular dance market (e.g. Rock-a-Bye and Hot Barbeque) but other items are unalloyed jazz - like the swinging Will You Still be Mine? And there are ballads which let the musicians stretch out, such as Easy Living which includes a rare chance to hear Jack McDuff at the piano.

None of the music is particularly profound but it's all good no-nonsense stuff and it displays George Benson's wide-ranging talents, although there are none of his vocals, which tended to take centre-stage in later years.

Tony Augarde

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