July 6, 2024

George BensonGeorge Benson
(GRP – 2004)
by Ricky Miller

Boy, is George gonna catch some flack for this one. Although that famous guitar / vocal combination is still there, there’s a LOT more of the vocal part. The feel of this release is a cross between Benson and the stylings of your 90’s vocal R&B group. George has always been innovative, and this time I think he’s seeking the

Listen to Take You Out using RealAudio.

same objective as other jazz/R&B collaborations, but with a different slant. Note that there are no original Benson compositions on the CD, ’nuff said about that. Although the heavily pushed single is probably going to be Cell Phone, I like the moody Black Rose featuring Joshua P. Thompson, on guitar, who also penned this track (with Hip Hop veteran Joe) featuring sweet background harmonies by Benson and Hasan Smith.

My next three choices on the CD are Arizona Sunrise and Softly as in a Morning Sunrise both remixed by smooth jazz master Paul Brown and Take You out; all three tracks are well written, well performed and Instrumental. If there were a few more guest vocalists like Will Downing or Phil Perry, even a little taste of a real R&B vocalist like Brian McKnight performing lead on many of the tracks you’ve got a better CD here.

Verve smartly brought in heavy smooth-jazz hitters Rex Rideout and Paul Brown to do a final mix on this CD before releasing it to insure that it had enough of a jazz flavor, otherwise this might have been relegated to the R&B bin at the store… and on the airwaves. Take You Out with accompanying keyboards from Rideout captures some of the zest and flavour of the Benson of yore, and there are some hellacious riffs on Missing You that prove there is life left in the king of the Masquerade. Three stars.

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