Reissue with the latest remastering. Comes with liner notes. George Benson's first LP for Columbia – a hard, heavy, soul jazz slammer that bears no resemblance to his overproduced work of the 70s! The album's a real cooker – recorded hot on the heels of Benson's classic work on Prestige with the Jack McDuff group, and sounding a lot like McDuff's hard wailing organ jazz of the same time. George is working with a group that features a young Lonnie Smith on organ, plus Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Ronnie Cuber on sax, and Charlie Persip on drums – all tightly coming together, and jamming hard on the album's short cooking tracks. Tracks include "Clockwise", "Jaguar", "Hello Birdie", and "Bullfight". Plus, the CD adds five bonus tracks, including "Sideman", "Minor Chant", and the previously unreleased "J.H. Bossa Nova" and "Clockwise (Alternate Take)".
Something of a smooth jazz oriented answer to the label's 2003 straight-ahead compilation Jazz After Dark, this highly engaging two-disc set features oft-played radio hits that have helped define the genre's generally easy grooves and colorful melodies. For diehard fans, smooth jazz has always been as about much about lifestyle as music, and these tracks will no doubt remind them just why they became devotees. All the early classics (circa mid-'70s to mid-'80s) are here, from Kenny G.'s "Songbird" and Dave Grusin's "Mountain Dance" to George Benson's "Breezin'" and Grover Washington, Jr.'s "Just the Two of Us." These are supplemented by later hits like Boney James & Rick Braun's "Grazin' in the Grass" and Dave Koz's "You Make Me Smile." But it's not simply an objective survey of smoothness at its best. The collection also seems designed to promote artists in the Concord Jazz stable – David Benoit and Russ Freeman, the Rippingtons, the Braxton Brothers, Gato Barbieri, Eric Marienthal, and Cassandra Reed, among others.
This two-fer CD pairs 1972's Live at the Lighthouse with the less impressive, though still worthy, 1974 album Kharma, which was recorded at that year's Montreux Jazz Festival. As the head of a sextet on Live at the Lighthouse, Earland spearheaded some first-class soul-jazz, which integrated some funk and rock of the early '70s without sounding like a watered-down cocktail of all those styles (as many other soul-jazz-pop albums of the time did). The horn section of James Vass on sax and Elmer Coles on trumpet leaned more toward soul than jazz, as heard on the opening instrumental cover of Sly & the Family Stone's "Smilin'." The Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun" wasn't the greatest tune to attempt, though Earland gamely put it into a boppish swing arrangement.