Hardbopjazz

What album turned G. Benson over to the dark side?

What album turned George Benson over to the dark side?   57 members have voted

  1. 1. What album turned George Benson over to the dark side?

    • Bad Benson
      2
    • In Concert Carnegie Hall
      0
    • Breezin'
      28
    • Weekend in LA
      2
    • Livin' inside your love.
      5
    • In your eyes
      0

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187 posts in this topic

Once upon a time George Benson played jazz guitar with the best of them, Green, Montgomery, and Burrell. Then one day he went over to the dark side of pop. What album would you say completed that transformation?

Edited by Hardbopjazz

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I voted for "Breezin'" but that doesn't mean there aren't some tunes on that one that can still float my boat. As a matter of fact, this was something of a transitional album for me, one of those that helped set my course in the direction of mainstream music. IMO, it's the presence of one song, "This Masquerade", that caused the worm to turn. That it was a huge hit, I think, made Benson realize there were diamonds laying on the beach and all he had to do was reach down and start picking them up. Gold in them thar smooth jazz hills as it were. Not to mention the fact that it allowed him to flex his vocal chops for the first time, something I have to think he'd probably been wanting to do for awhile. The rest, unfortunatley, is history.

Up over and out.

Edited by Dave James

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I voted for "Breezin" however I actually like that album.

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Definitely Breezin'.

I saw him live at an outdoor touring jazz festival a dozen or more years ago, which also had Miles Davis and Wynton. Benson's set was truly awful. I hated every song, which were all vocals, and I couldn't stand the brief guitar solos he played either.

Edited by kh1958

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I can actually live with the pop influences on Breezin'. It was a nice melodic album. It's his R&B stuff that I can't stand.

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Benson's always had one foot in theis "dark side" to which you refer, and he's far from the only "jazz musician" of which that can be said.

I also have my doubts that his goals (as well as his perception of his "role") have changed too terribly much since his first recordings (from 1954, btw, and vocals at that!).

Maybe he should do an album with Herb Alpert?

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"Dark side"? Is jazz on the "bright side" exclusively?

He does a good job in his field of choice, and that it's not to my taste - or yours - does not really matter. I cannot blame him for his choices, although I wish he'd do a real jazz album every now and then, like Herbie - he still can play his ass off, and scat like a mother.

What I found more irritating is that he had surgery on his nose, like Jacko ... :wacko:

Edited by mikeweil

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As Jim mentioned, Benson started on what you call "the dark side," even recorded as a pop singer in 1954 (for RCA's X label). So, he simply returned to pop--nothing wrong with that decision, per se. I wish he had stuck to jazz, but I don't blame him for going for the green. When I first interviewed him, he was still with Jack McDuff and living in an East Harlem apartment that he didn't want me to see (he told me this later).

BTW, I wrote the liner notes for his first album (Prestige) a couple of years before John Hammond "discovered" him!

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My "problem", such as it is, isn't with him "going pop", it's with the quality of some of the pop stuff. "This Masquerade" is a superior pop record, period. "Give Me The Night" ain't.

Then again, Nat Cole did "Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer" and "Ramblin' Rose" as well as "Nature Boy" and "Unforgettable". And I think he kept a far lower "jazz profile" once he went pop than has Benson.

Maybe Benson needs a singing/guitar-playing daughter to protect his legacy after he dies.

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I vote for Breezin'.

JSngry Posted on May 17 2005, 06:19 PM

  Maybe Benson needs a singing/guitar-playing daughter to protect his legacy after he dies.

At least then Kenny G would be less likely to overdub his ass. <_<

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I don't own anything post Breezin except his 2000 release Absolute Benson. I bought it on the strength of his cover of the Ray Charles tune "Come Back Baby". Really fine singing and his guitar playing on that tune is jaw dropping. Actually his playing on the entire album is quite good. I just don't care for the arrangements and the instrumentation.

If there ever was a guy who is in a position to make the kind of album that he really wants to make, it's George. Love to see him pair up with Lonnie Smith.

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I really don't understand why Benson didn't capitalize on the organ revival of the 1990's. He still could, but why he didn't jump on it while it was really happening, I don't know. He could still smoke 99.9% of the guitarists out there in that format...

... my brother Joe being in that .1% of course. :P

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I think there's two sides to Benson. One=the popular side, of which mostly R&B fans know him, and pop fans know him for On Broadway, but probaly have no clue about his dates with Lou Donaldson and albums like George Benson cook book. Then the jazz fans know him on that side. I can't say I dis-respect him for going pop on some occassions. but I certainly do not like it. His fairly recent album, I forget the name, was pretty bad, ( to me at least.) The only fair track was a smooth version of MJQ's Softly As In A Morning Sunrise. When I first "got into" Benson this summer after hearing Breezin on the radio and going out to buy the whole cd, I thought he was great. When I heard his new album at the time, I nearly fell off my chair. And not because it was good!

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Geez, guys, Breezin' was almost 30 years ago. He went "pop" (and I won't call it the dark side either) a long time ago and never looked back. I wouldn't even say that there are "two sides" to him anymore.

Now I like Breezin and a few of his other pop-jazz albums, but to answer the spirit of the thread I'd put his turning point much further back to some of those CTI/A&M albums. Can't blame him for going for the green, but I wish he'd put something more straightforward out as well - dude can play.

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Yeah, I think it would be allright if he satisfied both handfuls of fans. Do some real jazz albums, then make a pop R&B album. You know, its most important what he wants to do.

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For Benson fans-Legacy will issue a 2CD set "The Best of George Benson" later this year.

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I like moments of Bad Benson but agree the earlier stuff is better. BB could rightly be considered the "beginning of the end" for those intolerant of pop-oriented material.

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IMO, the record that most blatantly defines Benson's transition to pop was "Good King Bad." OOP title on CTI - his last CTI record.

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I couldn't bring myself to vote for "Breezin" even though it had "This Masquerade" on it. Anything with Ogerman arrangements can't be all bad.

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I voted for "Breezin". I liked that one as a very young kid, before I knew about a lot of stuff, but I wish George would do another straight ahead album, with an organ. I mean he played his ass off and smoked on "Summertime" from Brother Jack's "Bringin it Home" album... As for the pop/R&B sell out stuff, whatever you want to call it, I think he made the transition completely on "Breezin" although I doubt pop fans more familiar with "On Broadway" have heard that killer guitar solo, or at least really listened closely enough to it. The CTI albums had something, I personally like "Beyond the Blue Horizon" very much. Finally, as for his new one, its trying to get the young R&B crowd noticing him, I heard clips, didn't really care for it all that much, but......... I'd say it is far higher quality than most mainstream R&B you hear on the radio today.

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quote=undergroundagent,May 18 2005, 06:47 PM]

IMO, the record that most blatantly defines Benson's transition to pop was "Good King Bad." OOP title on CTI - his last CTI record.

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I voted for Bad Benson before reading the first post about the completion of the transformation. Bad was just the beginning.

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Hey, my wife likes Benson, and I already have Charlie, Grant, Wes, Pat, and thanks to this place, Joe. What the hell...

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If there ever was a guy who is in a position to make the kind of album that he really wants to make, it's George. Love to see him pair up with Lonnie Smith.

In the new liner notes to the 2001 reissue of COOKBOOK, he says he'd really like to team up with Smith and Ronnie Cuber again.

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He probably "turned" after digesting Grant Green, Tal Farlow, Jimmy Raney and a few others.

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