George Benson and Al Jarreau – Follow My Lead

George Benson and Al JarreauGeorge Benson and Al Jarreau
Givin’ it up
(Concord – 2006)
by Carmen Miller

This CD is very rewarding because you naturally go into it with certain high expectations, and these two true legends of jazz meet and beat those hopes. Friends and label-mates for over 30 years, Givin’ it up marks the first time that the multiple Grammy® winners, both with Gold and Platinum selling albums, have recorded together as equal partners.

The 13-tracks feature each of the stars on a new arrangement of one of the other’s biggest hits – Jarreau adding lyrics to and singing Benson’s signature instrumental smash “Breezin’,” while Benson delivers a lovely instrumental version of the eternal hit “Mornin’.” Givin’ It Up also includes delicious covers of Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” and Hall & Oates’ (and Paul Young smash) “Every Time You Go Away,” as well as new jazz vocal versions of the Miles Davis classics “Four” and ‘Long Come Tutu.”

Givin’ It Up was recorded between April and June, 2006. Oddly enough, pop legend Paul McCartney happened to be in the studio next door during one session and dropped in to join in on an impromptu romp through Sam Cooke’s “Bring it on Home to Me.” Neo-soul diva Jill Scott performs Billie Holiday’s timeless “God Bless the Child.” Rounding out the album is an instrumental take on John Legend’s Grammy® award-winning soul smash, “Ordinary People” and four new compositions, including a new Jarreau and Barry Eastmond composition, “Let it Rain,” which features Patti Austin and Chris Botti.

This confluence of talent has been a long time coming, and it was worth the wait. Get a copy of this CD today, I have one I’m not Givin’ it up.