Last week on our featured artist segment, we began a two show look at guitarist, singer, and songwriter, George Benson, winner of eleven Grammy Awards and simply one of the greatest guitarists in jazz history, George Benson is an amazingly versatile musician, whose adept skills find him crossing easily between straight-ahead jazz, smooth jazz, and contemporary R&B If you missed last week’s show, I played mostly music including seven of his Grammy Award winners. That show is available in my show archives. This week I will provide more information on his career and play some of the rest of his great music.
Benson began at the age of seven to play the ukulele in a corner drug store, for which he was paid a few dollars. At the age of eight, he played guitar in an unlicensed nightclub on Friday and Saturday nights. At the age of 9, he started to record. Out of the four sides he cut, two were released:under the name Little Georgie. Benson's introduction to show business had an bad effect on his schooling. When this was discovered his guitar was impounded. Luckily, after he spent time in a juvenile detention center his stepfather made him a new guitar.
Benson formed a rock band at age 17. While in high school, Benson learned how to play straight-ahead instrumental jazz through exposure to recordings of Wes Montgomery, our program two featured artist, and Charlie Parker. After forming his own group at age 22, Benson recorded two highly regarded albums of soul-jazz and hard bop for Columbia and turned up on several records by others, including jazz great Miles Davis' Miles in the Sky album. He has collaborated with a who’s who of jazz.
While a guitar star in the jazz world, the mass market did not catch on until he began to emphasize his vocal abilities. Ironically, Benson had been discouraged up until this time, from using his singing skills, mainly as the company decision makers felt he wasn't competent enough vocally, and he should stick to playing the guitar. It was here that he clearly proved them wrong.
That occurred in 1976 with his triple platinum album Breezin’ and the Grammy Awards started to pour in that we covered last week.
While we covered many of his Grammy winning songs last week, this week I will play important songs that you may not have known about.
I will Play the billboard top three songs in smooth jazz for this week.
Our new releases page will start with Dave Koz’s Summer Horns troupe, Following we have Violinist Josh Vietti, the guitar of Nick Colionne, and saxophonist Michael Paulo.
The second hour will include Diana Krall, Euge Groove, Peter White, Keiko Matsui, Rick Braun, Grover Washington Jr. Rob Tardik, David Benoit, Darren Rahn, Joyce Cooling, and Dave Koz.
This week’s close will return to our featured artist George Benson with his guest, the fabulous Joe Sample.