2007 five CD set, a great installment in Sony/BMG's Original Album Classics series that brings together rare and out of print titles with some best sellers from the Sony/BMG Jazz catalog. Many of these albums have been unavailable on CD for some time and are sought after by collectors. Each set is presented in a high quality, rigid cardboard slipcase containing five 'vinyl replica' mini LP sleeves. This collection from the guitar great features the albums Bad Benson, The George Benson Cookbook, It's Uptown, Body Talk and Beyond The Blue Horizon.
This particular Origina Album Classics release contains five albums issued by George Benson through the Warner Bros. label: Breezin' (1976), Weekend in L.A. (1977), Give Me the Night (1980), Tenderly (1989), and Big Boss Band (1990). This is a rather arbitrary assortment; Benson made several other significant albums during the span covered here, and the stylistic differences between the earliest and latest sets are stark.
In Concert – Carnegie Hall is George Benson's final recording for Creed Taylor's CTI label, and was mostly recorded on one night in 1975. There was some additional recording done at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in 1976, where Taylor replaced the original rhythm section of Wayne Dockery on bass and Marvin Chapell on drums with Will Lee and Steve Gadd, for whatever reason Taylor had at the time. Regardless, this is a solid "live" effort with Benson cooking on all burners, beginning with a monster version of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," which had been cut on an earlier album and had become a staple in the live set.
Recorded live at Waterfront Hall, Belfast, Ireland, in 2000, these ten tracks are pleasant re-workings of guitarist and vocalist George Benson's jazz-pop hits of the '70s. To his credit, Benson isn't just a human jukebox re-creating well-known songs and sidestepping any spontaneity that derives from a live performance. For instance, his band, which includes keyboardist Joe Sample, gets to stretch out a bit, showing off their improvisational skills on "This Masquerade," "On Broadway," and particularly on Sample's "Deeper Than You Think." Alongside his seven-member group, Benson employs the BBC Big Band and musicians from the Ulster Orchestra who provide a real lushness that enhances the music instead of utilizing the cheesy synthesizer strings that often marred some of his work in the '80s and '90s. Fans of Benson's early sessions for Columbia or A&M may not rush out to purchase this, but those who favor Breezin' will find some pleasant moments here.
George Benson may have changed labels with That's Right, but he didn't change his approach. Like his other '90s albums, That's Right is jazz-inflected quiet-storm soul. It's quietly funky and always grooving, whether he's playing a light uptempo number or a silky ballad. As always, Benson's tone is smooth and supple – it's a pleasure to hear him play, even if the material he has selected doesn't always showcase his ample skills. In fact, the unevenness in material is the very thing that keeps That's Right from being on par with Benson's early '80s contemporary soul records…