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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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GEORGE BENSON

Guitar Man

Concord Jazz 0888072330993

 

 


1. Tenderly
2. I Want to Hold Your Hand
3. My Cherie Amour
4. Naima
5. Tequila
6. Don't Know Why
7. The Lady in My Life
8. My One and Only Love
9. It's Only a Paper Moon
10. Danny Boy
11. Since I Fell for You
12. Fingerlero

George Benson - Guitar, vocals
David Garfield - Keyboards (tracks 2-8, 11, 12)
Ben Williams - Bass (tracks 3-5, 6-8, 12)
Harvey Mason - Drums (tracks 3-5, 7-9, 12)
Lenny Castro - Percussion (tracks 3, 5, 6, 12)
Paul Jackson Jr., Ray Fuller - Rhythm guitars (track 2)
Freddie Washington - Bass (track 2)
Oscar Seaton Jr. - Drums (track 2)
Charlie Bisharat - Violin, viola (track 2)
Dan Higgins - Flute, alto flute, clarinet (track 2)
Joe Sample - Piano (track 5, 8, 9, 12)
Chris Walden - Keyboards (track 7)

 

Many people will know George Benson as a vocalist who occasionally plays the guitar. With this new CD, George goes back to his roots as a jazz guitarist, although not all the tracks could be categorised as jazz. But they feature his manifold skills as a guitarist on all the dozen tracks.

The opening Tenderly has Benson playing solo acoustic guitar, from which he extracts a symphonic profusion of sounds. He is also on his own in Danny Boy, which again displays his varied skills on the guitar. These are also on display in other tracks, where he even supplies the bass line for his own improvisations.

But the variety of sounds and styles illustrates George's versatility, which ranges from a rich orchestral version of Lennon & McCartney's I Want to Hold Your Hand via a subtle reading of John Coltrane's Naima to a pensive Don't Know Why. More forceful tracks include Tequila, propelled by Harvey Mason's powerful drums, and Fingerlero, in which Benson employs his wordless vocals in tune with his soulful guitar. Vocals with lyrics appear in My Cherie Amour (where George phrases rather like its composer Stevie Wonder), My One and Only Love and Since I Fell for You - which both show why Benson has been such a seductively popular singer.

As Harry Hill would say, which is better: Benson the guitarist or Benson the vocalist? I like his vocals but I still prefer his guitar-playing, and thankfully there's plenty of that on this disc.

Tony Augarde

www.augardebooks.co.uk



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