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Bright Moments

Gabor Szabo

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It was Bobby Womack's tune, and Tommy LiPuma's production. Rene Hall did the string arrangement.

It sounds like a pretty simple, riffy/vampy song, and it also sounds like something that Bobby Womack would have brought to the session pretty much "as is".

Szabo may or may not have contributed something to the song/record, but if he did, he got no credit on the original record, or any reissue of it since (somebody correct me if I'm wrong. So whatever ire he felt at Benson seems wholly misplaced to me.

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4 minutes ago, JSngry said:

So whatever ire he felt at Benson seems wholly misplaced to me.

I don't know much about Szabo's personality but if he was battling heroin addiction then his perception may have been skewed leading to misplaced ire, etc. There aren't any first hand accounts from Szabo about this that I can find either, so this description of "livid" at Benson may also be an embellishment (or not, who knows). Benson's legacy is affirmed though. 

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Benson's autobiography might have some relevant details regarding the song "Breezin".  But I do not have the book and the library I would go to has been closed since March.  

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On 6/24/2020 at 3:56 PM, gvopedz said:

Benson's autobiography might have some relevant details regarding the song "Breezin".  But I do not have the book and the library I would go to has been closed since March.  

All I remember about Benson's autobiography was that he agreed with the statement of one of his fans that Charlie Parker destroyed jazz, but that player's like Benson himself were taking Bird's innovations and creating a newer, better type of music. At that point, I either puked, or stopped reading.

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Now that's a quote I'm going to need to see in full, and in context, before actually puking.

Puking takes a lot of energy, so I need to make sure I'm expending it sensibly!

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3 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Now that's a quote I'm going to need to see in full, and in context, before actually puking.

Puking takes a lot of energy, so I need to make sure I'm expending it sensibly!

I can send you some of the puke if you want me to. I saved it in a jar as proof of Bad Benson's unbelievable egotism.:rolleyes:

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No, puke holds no surprises for me, nor does Benson's ego. Just sayin'...

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Benson from Guitar Player

"When Charlie Parker played, you could always hear that melody. The song never left you. When he played Just Friends — one of the greatest solos if not the greatest improvisational thing of all time — you could still hear the song through all of that wonderful, stunning playing."

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1 hour ago, Milestones said:

Benson from Guitar Player

"When Charlie Parker played, you could always hear that melody. The song never left you. When he played Just Friends — one of the greatest solos if not the greatest improvisational thing of all time — you could still hear the song through all of that wonderful, stunning playing."

That was a long time ago that he said that. He changed.

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Posted (edited)

Ten years ago.  Is that a long time for a man who is now 77-years-old?

  

Edited by Milestones

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Posted (edited)

Here's what Benson is talking about...

"I said, “You mean Bird?” He said, “That’s it!” “Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker.” “Yeah, that’s the name. Yardbird. They said he was going to destroy jazz.” On the way back to the hotel, I thought about what the man said, what the man felt, what the man believed, and you know what? He was right. Charlie Parker improvised in a sophisticated manner that wasn’t appreciated by every jazz ear at the time. He broke the mold, but he broke it in a way that enabled those who study his work to put it together in a new, beautiful manner, with a whole new identity, an identity that brought us to where we are now. And I think we’re in a pretty good place".

I've read the book. I don't read any overblown egotism, the only thing I would raise eyebrows to is his rationalisations about playing South Africa. Otherwise you get a quite expansive and candid insight into the Organ/Guitar era, especially to the days before his Warner Bros era of mainstream success. 

 

Edited by robertoart

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6 hours ago, robertoart said:

Here's what Benson is talking about...

"I said, “You mean Bird?” He said, “That’s it!” “Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker.” “Yeah, that’s the name. Yardbird. They said he was going to destroy jazz.” On the way back to the hotel, I thought about what the man said, what the man felt, what the man believed, and you know what? He was right. Charlie Parker improvised in a sophisticated manner that wasn’t appreciated by every jazz ear at the time. He broke the mold, but he broke it in a way that enabled those who study his work to put it together in a new, beautiful manner, with a whole new identity, an identity that brought us to where we are now. And I think we’re in a pretty good place".

I've read the book. I don't read any overblown egotism, the only thing I would raise eyebrows to is his rationalisations about playing South Africa. Otherwise you get a quite expansive and candid insight into the Organ/Guitar era, especially to the days before his Warner Bros era of mainstream success. 

 

Thanks for posting that.  His point is reasonable and cogent, especially when not taken out of context.  Coincidentally, I recently reheard his Talking Jazz interview with Ben Sidran.  He seems like a very nice, down to earth guy.  You can hear it here:

http://bensidran.com/conversation/talking-jazz-george-benson

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"I said, “You mean Bird?” He said, “That’s it!” “Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker.” “Yeah, that’s the name. Yardbird. They said he was going to destroy jazz.” On the way back to the hotel, I thought about what the man said, what the man felt, what the man believed, and you know what? He was right."

And we're supposed to believe that the "new, beautiful way" he presents it is better than the way Bird and his followers presented it? The slick, over-produced arrangements of smooth jazz he plays live and on all his albums? If you listen to the lines that he plays and sings, they're hack blues cliches that hundreds of mediocre organ trio guitarists play.

When Pat Martino was asked what he thought of Benson as a jazz guitarist, he replied, "He's a pretty good R&B player".

Benson's egotism allows him to say,
"He was right", because he believes that the way HE puts Bird's ideas to use is better than the way Jackie McLean, Sonny Stitt , Sonny Rollins, Phil Woods, Cannonball Adderly, ad infinitum. because he appeals to the LCD and sells more records, whatever that means anymore. His legacy will be his square, effeminate rendition of "The Greatest Love of All", because he refuses to put out any jazz records, because they don't make a lot of money. If your read the whole book, he drops anything that won't draw large crowds and sell a lot of records.

The man who destroyed jazz, meanwhile, has a legacy that shows no sign of ever fading.

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Benson is hardly the first huge egoist in jazz, nor will he be the last.

I'm sure most people on the board would agree that, despite his skills, Benson is little more than a footnote in jazz history.

 

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Actually, more than a footnote. A key part of one of Jack McDuff's best bands, had a cult-fave band with Lonnie Smith, made some really nice records for A&M/CTI and then CTI itself, one of which was almost a breakthrough, then, of course, Breezin, which, sorry, is a really good record, no complaints here.

And then of course, all that other stuff happened, but no more a footnote, than, as...any number of other people who had a lot of popular records. And many of them (looking at you, Ramsey Lewis) did not nearly the number of good records that Benson made, as leader or as sideman. I guess if Nat Cole's going to be a footnote, then, and only then, will also be George Benson.

I get it, the guy took his money and went home. Good for him, his money, his choice. But before he made all that money, he was there, more than once, and more than a little.

Of course, who is writing this "history" and where are the footnotes going to be?

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I also think of Benson as a reliable booster of real jazz, however that's defined.  He would regularly come down to the Village in NYC just to jam.  I got word one night in the mid-80's that he would be sitting in with Blakey's Jazz Messengers at the Village Gate.  I went, and it was a great night of music.  In the '90's, I think he regularly jammed with Ron Affif at the Zinc Bar.  He seems like a genuine guy.  Some guys fall into the honey pot, and I don't fault him for that.

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On 6/26/2020 at 11:27 PM, robertoart said:

Here's what Benson is talking about...

"I said, “You mean Bird?” He said, “That’s it!” “Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker.” “Yeah, that’s the name. Yardbird. They said he was going to destroy jazz.” On the way back to the hotel, I thought about what the man said, what the man felt, what the man believed, and you know what? He was right. Charlie Parker improvised in a sophisticated manner that wasn’t appreciated by every jazz ear at the time. He broke the mold, but he broke it in a way that enabled those who study his work to put it together in a new, beautiful manner, with a whole new identity, an identity that brought us to where we are now. And I think we’re in a pretty good place".

I've read the book. I don't read any overblown egotism, the only thing I would raise eyebrows to is his rationalisations about playing South Africa. Otherwise you get a quite expansive and candid insight into the Organ/Guitar era, especially to the days before his Warner Bros era of mainstream success. 

 

I guess my reading on this was quite different.  I have no pro/anti George Benson agenda, so let me try to explain how I interpreted the above statement when I read it here.

Charlie Parker improvised in a sophisticated manner

Clearly nothing derogatory there.  It seems that Mr. Benson holds Mr. Parker's musical thinking and ability in high regard.

that wasn’t appreciated by every jazz ear at the time

Of note to me is that he did not write "by every ear at the time",  meaning the general music listening audience of the day, but "by every jazz ear" meaning even folks who were devoted to this style of music in particular -- heck, even folks who were in the business of playing & producing this style of music -- could not appreciate the music Mr. Parker was creating right in front of them, that's how far-thinking & sophisticated it was.

He broke the mold

AKA "destroy jazz"..  After Charlie Parker (just as with Louis Armstrong), whatever jazz was before, it wasn't any more.  Charlie Parker was, as the hot phrase used to put it, a paradigm shift.  Jazz 2.0.  New & improved.

but he broke it in a way that enabled those who study his work

Emphasis here on study.  Don't just pick up a few licks or perfect a kick ass solo that will wow an audience every time.  Get in there, day after day, again and again, listen and study what Charlie Parker was doing and saying in his music, where his music was coming from and where it was going.  Study also means taking that information and internalizing it, adding in one's own thoughts, interpretations and experiences so that one can . . .

put it together in a new, beautiful manner, with a whole new identity

Create something new and personal, hopefully something that speaks to your own world in your own time.  Whatever the merits of Charlie Parker's music may be, his music is set in stone.  It's recorded and not going to change.  The music created by musicians today is still alive, a work in progress, able to build and expand upon the groundbreaking work of Charlie Parker, to inspire or entertain audiences now.  And doing that will create a whole new identity for jazz, as we have seen with musicians who have been influenced by Charlie Parker also bringing into jazz other musical influences, say from different religious traditions, or rhythms from cultural backgrounds in Cuba, Eastern Europe or Japan, for example.  Would any one argue that, for better or worse, the identity of jazz in 2020 is far different from what it was in 1940?

an identity that brought us to where we are now. And I think we’re in a pretty good place

I have no reason to assume Mr. Benson is using the imperial "we" here, so I assume he is talking about the world of jazz in general.  He's saying that the state of jazz as a musical art form -- an art form built upon and expanded from the revolutionary musical contributions of Charlie Parker, mind you -- was in a pretty good place at the time he said/wrote that statement.  Perhaps it was or wasn't, but that was his opinion.

 

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Since Benson has jammed in the Village, why haven't there been any releases of this material? 

Some artists do a pretty good job of balancing (in performances and on records) a lighter or smoother type of music with legitimate jazz music.  It seems to me that Herbie Hancock did this for quite awhile.

  

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1 hour ago, Milestones said:

Since Benson has jammed in the Village, why haven't there been any releases of this material? 

Some artists do a pretty good job of balancing (in performances and on records) a lighter or smoother type of music with legitimate jazz music.  It seems to me that Herbie Hancock did this for quite awhile.

  

Yeah, Benson tried to do it once, as he mentions in the book. He got together a great band, with amazing players. They did a gig somewhere or other, and no one showed up.

Boom! That was the end of the band. Herbie keeps releasing jazz album after jazz album. I remember buying Benson's album with Joe Farrell, thinking, "How could this possibly be lame- Joe Farrell and George Benson. I used to catch Farrell playing with Sam Brown in the Village, and they'd blow their asses off for twenty minute-long solos.

I put the record on, and couldn't believe it- smooth effing jazz- Joe Farrell! Not even one cut where they tried to play the type of stuff Farrell was playing with Sam Brown in the 70s.

Duaneiac's interpretation of "destroyed jazz" is hardly what Benson and his admirer were talking about, (although I admire his imaginative, post-modern interpretation :lol: ), they were obviously talking about Bird's music not being as easy to dance to as the Swing music that was so popular. Then Benson saved 'jazz' by teaming up with Quincy and "Gave us The Night" "On Broadway", where we be "Breezin' through "This Masquerade" with "The Greatest Love of All"on the dance floor..:ph34r:

And it's not like he isn't a great player (the greatest in many people's eyes), but there's something subtle about his and Rodney Jones' rhythmic approach which funks more than it swings. His voice has such a great timbre, that when he's singing along with his lines, that it comes out as something greater than it would be if he were just playing guitar.

 

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Dude, Joe Farrell would play anything that paid. Anything. Why are you surprised at that?

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44 minutes ago, sgcim said:

...there's something subtle about his and Rodney Jones' rhythmic approach which funks more than it swings.

and that's a deficit or problem or whatever it is, why, exactly?

I mean, geez, he's been doing music since he was literally a kid. He comes by this pop/R&B  shit honestly. Unlike, say, somebody like Chick Corea who admitted that he didn't start listening to The Beatles until, like the 2000s. I was like dude, seriously? No wonder your "jazz rock" had no good rock in it! And I would still wager dinner (not lunch, mind you, dinner) that he's still at best radio-familiar with James Brown.

You do this before you hit puberty, hey, why should you lose it? Just add to it.

Dude was young (quite), handsome (quite), and always clean. Probably "became a man" sooner than most of us have our first t-bone. What part of that life and lifestyle suggest anything other than wanting more of the same? No part at all, maybe?

As for his records (does he still make records?), he hasn't made them for me make them for me for decades now. and my feelings are not in the least hurt by that. He doesn't need my money, and I don't need those records. I don't see where there's any cause for upsetment in that.

 

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6 hours ago, JSngry said:

Actually, more than a footnote. A key part of one of Jack McDuff's best bands, had a cult-fave band with Lonnie Smith, made some really nice records for A&M/CTI and then CTI itself, one of which was almost a breakthrough, then, of course, Breezin, which, sorry, is a really good record, no complaints here.

And then of course, all that other stuff happened, but no more a footnote, than, as...any number of other people who had a lot of popular records. And many of them (looking at you, Ramsey Lewis) did not nearly the number of good records that Benson made, as leader or as sideman. I guess if Nat Cole's going to be a footnote, then, and only then, will also be George Benson.

I get it, the guy took his money and went home. Good for him, his money, his choice. But before he made all that money, he was there, more than once, and more than a little.

Of course, who is writing this "history" and where are the footnotes going to be?

As an avid history reader, sometimes the footnotes are the best part.  But seriously, I got no beef with Geo. Benson.  Got no big pile of his records either, but I got enough that I can listen to him when I feel like it and the man can certainly play.  Got no beef with Nat Cole or Wes M. either, and the're all more than footnotes to me - possibly three entries in the Why Couldn't They Make a Decent Living Playing Real Jazz chpt.  All of the afore-mentioned (and Grant and Turrentine) were, IMHO, more genuine populists than someone like Chick.

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Posted (edited)

I once saw a a tv piece on Tommy Lipuma   (sp?) in which George Benson told how great it was to find a producer who would let him sing.  Is it possible that Nat, George and even Ramsey liked the kind of music that coincidently made them rich just as much as they liked playing jazz? Hangin a very little bit with Benny Carter I realized that he appreciated a much wider range of music than I did. 

(OTOH I remember reading a piece where someone talked about how embarrassed Wes was by his more popular later recordings.) 

Edited by medjuck

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4 hours ago, JSngry said:

and that's a deficit or problem or whatever it is, why, exactly?

I mean, geez, he's been doing music since he was literally a kid. He comes by this pop/R&B  shit honestly. Unlike, say, somebody like Chick Corea who admitted that he didn't start listening to The Beatles until, like the 2000s. I was like dude, seriously? No wonder your "jazz rock" had no good rock in it! And I would still wager dinner (not lunch, mind you, dinner) that he's still at best radio-familiar with James Brown.

You do this before you hit puberty, hey, why should you lose it? Just add to it.

Dude was young (quite), handsome (quite), and always clean. Probably "became a man" sooner than most of us have our first t-bone. What part of that life and lifestyle suggest anything other than wanting more of the same? No part at all, maybe?

As for his records (does he still make records?), he hasn't made them for me make them for me for decades now. and my feelings are not in the least hurt by that. He doesn't need my money, and I don't need those records. I don't see where there's any cause for upsetment in that.

 

It's when Benson's name gets linked with Bird that bugs me. There are a bunch of guitarists that think Benson was the greatest exponent of Bird on the guitar, but I don't hear it.

Barry Harris has been quoted as saying that Jimmy Raney was the cat who played more like Bird than any other guitarist. Raney played with Al Haig, and he lived that music full-time 24/7 on 52nd Street. Then Benson comes along who was too young to even know who Bird was, and had never even heard him until he was a pro playing with McDuff.

And then the "upsetment" intensifies when I read his jive autobiography, and he has the nerve to end the book agreeing with some jerk who says that "Bird destroyed jazz".

Everything else is neither here nor there, but when he puts that garbage about the greatest jazz musician that ever lived, IMHO, it's extremely problematic.

But don't worry, he's only about 80 now, he'll resurrect jazz from that nasty Yardbird jazz destroyer any day now................................................................................

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