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Bad Benson
George Benson
Bad Benson
Genres: Jazz, Pop, R&B
Much like Nat King Cole in the 1950s, George Benson's crossover success in the '70s found the jazz musician stepping forward as an expressive singer and reaching a much wider pop audience. Yet he'd made numerous recordings...  more »


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All Artists: George Benson
Title: Bad Benson
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sbme Special Mkts.
Release Date: 3/1/2008
Genres: Jazz, Pop, R&B
Styles: Smooth Jazz, Bebop, Funk
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 886972421124

Much like Nat King Cole in the 1950s, George Benson's crossover success in the '70s found the jazz musician stepping forward as an expressive singer and reaching a much wider pop audience. Yet he'd made numerous recordings already as a fully formed post-Wes Montgomery jazz guitarist. Recorded for the CTI label, Bad Benson is a smooth and funky affair. With the tandem guitars of Benson and Phil Upchurch taking center stage, there's rhythmic and tasteful interplay throughout. Paul Desmond's "Take Five" is a suitable opener, setting the tone for the laid-back grooves that follow. Favoring primarily originals, this CD reissue is expanded with a few additional covers from the sessions. Left off due to the time limitations of the original vinyl format, Billy Strayhorn's "Take the 'A' Train" simmers along with subtle relentlessness, while Don Sebesky's "Serbian Blue" is a moody take, full of late-night film noir mystery. --David Greenberger

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CD Reviews

An appropriate title
bluesdoc05 | South | 12/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In the jazz vernacular, "bad" is a term for something toally hot and beyond "good". Such is the right description for this disc.
Of all the albums Benson recorded for CTI, this is my absolute favorite, and the one I would recommend to anyone interested in exploring his work for Creed Taylor.

At this point in his career, Benson's style was fully developed and on this album, an amalgam of bop, blues, funk, and Latin influences, you get to hear him at his best. Supremely confident and playing with incredible power and fluidity, Benson just tears through the material. The album starts off in high gear with an uptempo funkified version of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five". The sheer technical prowess Benson exhibits on this cut is exhilarating, yet never is his playing devoid of soul or complex harmonic ideas. "My Latin Brother", "Full Compass", and "No Sooner Said Than Done" are equally brillant. In fact there is simply not a weak track on the entire album."
More Vintage Benson
Olukayode Balogun | Leeds, England | 07/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Recorded in 1974, this is another classic George Benson album from the same era and in the same vein, as Beyond the Blue Horizon, which I reviewed recently. Producer Creed Taylor has once again barred Benson from singing so we've got an hour or so of pure jazz guitar.

I got the CD mainly for "Take Five", the Paul Desmond tune made popular by Dave Brubeck and for "Full Compass", which is another very unusual but satisfying composition written by Phil Upchuch. I've had both tunes on cassette for years and have always loved them. But since getting this CD, I've now also grown to love "My Latin Brother", one of Benson's own compositions and "No Sooner Said Than Done" (also written by Upchurch), with its cool sound effects. I can't quite work out if the effects are connected to the guitar or to the keys but they make the song much more interesting to listen to. Benson is backed by a solid rhythm section as is always the case with Creed Taylor productions - including Rob Carter on bass and Steve Gadd on drums - but most notable on this album are Kenny Barron on piano and Upchurch on rhythm guitar, (and on electric bass on "Full Compass" and percussion on "My Latin Brother" and "Serbian Blue"). The orchestration is arranged and conducted by Don Sebesky.

The three "New Mix" bonus tracks were apparently recorded as part of the same session but timing restrictions imposed by the old LP format meant they couldn't be included. I have mixed views on them. Take "The "A" Train" doesn't really do anything for me and to be frank, the damned whistle gets on my nerves. "Serbian Blue" is the killer track. A Don Sebesky composition and over 13 mins long, to me it goes many places and says many things. As for the closer, "From Now On" (which has Benson playing solo guitar) all I can say is that I sorely wish it were a bit longer. At only 2mins 20 secs, just when I'm really getting into it, it's all over.

Ah, well. It's still a very enjoyable CD. Not quite up there with "Beyond The Blue Horizon" but a definitive five star set nonetheless

PS. Another cool route to some good value vintage George Benson is via the "Compact Jazz" series from Verve. They've got a full roster; from Count Basie to Stan Getz to Gerry Mulligan to Sarah Vaughan. I recently picked up two Wes Montgomery CDs from the collection, one by Dinah Washington and Compact Jazz: George Benson. It features songs from Benson's earlier work like the 1967 album "Giblet Gravy" among others and features guest artistes like Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham and Jimmy Smith. Well worth a look."
Anything but Bad!!!
Chris Covais | 07/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There are two sides of George Benson. There is the signing pop star that many non jazz fans know, who gives sold out concerts all over the world. Then there is my favorite side of Benson. The great jazz guitar player, who used to put out great instrumental albums of excellent originals, and great jazz/funk versions of old jazz standards.

This album is the epitome of that side of George Benson. The side in which shows Benson's excellent guitar playing. His flashy and talented chops.

The album opens with Dave Brubeck's classic, Take Five. This time, done in a funk setting, Benson does this jazz classic like its his own. Nice playing all around! Benson's original, My Latin Brother is a nice groove.

The others are nice 70's pop tunes, and funk masterpieces. Drummer Steve Gadd gets some spotlight and some funky drum solos. Ron Carter is an excellent addition to this group also.

If you love this side of Benson, the funky instrumental side, then this album is perfect for you!"