Saturday, September 24, 2011

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
George Benson, guitar player

For this week's video showcase, we train our gaze on guitarist and singer George Benson, who will be back in St. Louis to play next Sunday, October 2 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center as part of Jazz St. Louis' "Legends of Jazz" concert series.

Before Benson became a pop and R&B star via his renditions of vocal tunes such as "This Masquerade" and "On Broadway," he already had established a reputation as a top-notch jazz instrumentalist. His new album Guitar Man, which will be released next week on the Concord label, is being touted as something of a return to those roots, and in a nod to that release, today we look at some clips that emphasize Benson's considerable skills as a guitar player.

First up is a clip from 2008, featuring Benson performing the Jose Feliciano composition "Affirmation" at the North Sea Jazz Festival 2008 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Next up, we go back to 1992, to a show in Seville, Spain at which Benson fronted an all-star band led by George Duke in versions of two songs that happen to have a St. Louis connection: "Valdez In The Country," written by St. Louis native Donny Hathaway, and Miles Davis' "All Blues."

The final three videos come from a 1989 performance that teamed Benson with the trio of the great pianist McCoy Tyner, with Avery Sharpe on bass and Aaron Scott on drums. Benson cuts loose on three familiar jazz tunes - "Round Midnight," "Stella By Starlight," and "Alligator Boogaloo," demonstrating once again that he's got plenty to say with his guitar as well as his voice.


stevieguitar said...

Mercy! The version of Affirmation that you posted leaves every guitarist on the planet eating George Benson's dust.

Dean Minderman said...

Glad you liked it, stevieguitar. As a non-guitarist, I'll leave the determination of any dust-eating potential to those who actually play the instrument, but I did think it was a particularly good version of a tune I've always liked. I understand why Benson has continued to emphasize vocal material, but I've always enjoyed hearing him stretch out on guitar...