George Benson – In Flight {WB}

Review by Richard S. Ginell (

In the wake of “This Masquerade,” the balance of power shifted for the first time toward George Benson’s suddenly marketable voice; four of the six tracks on In Flight are vocals. By this time, Benson was tailoring his tenor toward soulful pitch-bending à la Stevie Wonder on tunes as diverse as “Nature Boy” and “The World Is a Ghetto,” and the unison scatting with the guitar that caught fire with the public on Masquerade is now pulled out whenever possible. Benson’s backing band from Breezin’, still set in its funk mode, is intact, and Claus Ogerman again contributes gentle orchestral cushions. The two instrumentals, particularly Donny Hathaway’s “Valdez in the Country,” prove that Benson remained a brilliantly inventive melodist on guitar, in full possession of his powers. Yet there is every indication here that Benson was set upon becoming primarily a pop star.

01 – Nature Boy
02 – The Wind and I
03 – The World is a Ghetto
04 – Gonna Love You More
05 – Valdez in the Country
06 – Everything Must Change

George Benson – lead guitar & vocals
Phil Upchurch – rhythm guitar
Ronnie Foster – electric piano & mini-moog
Jorge Dalto – clavinet & acoustic piano
Stanley Banks – bass
Harvey Mason – drums
Ralph MacDonald – percussion
Claus Ogerman – arranger & conducter

Recorded and mixed at Capitol Records, Hollywood; August-November, 1976.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

George Benson – New Boss Guitar of George Benson {Prestige}[OJC]

Review by Alex Henderson (
George Benson was only 21 when, on May 1, 1964, he recorded his first album as a leader, The New Boss Guitar of George Benson. At that point, the guitarist had yet to become a huge name in jazz, although many of those who knew Benson for his work with Jack McDuff’s group (which he joined in 1962) agreed that he showed great potential. Benson still had some growing to do in 1964, but even so, this is an impressive debut. The guitarist had developed a distinctive, recognizable sound on his instrument, and he plays with both feeling and technique on five Benson originals (including the sly “Shadow Dancers,” the exuberant “Rock-A-Bye,” and the earthy blues “I Don’t Know”) as well as interpretations of “Easy Living” and “Will You Still Be Mine.” Benson, of course, had an insightful teacher in McDuff, who plays both organ and piano on this hard bop/soul-jazz date. Tenor saxophonist Red Holloway, another member of McDuff’s early ’60s group, is also on board, as are bassist Ronnie Boykins and drummer Montego Joe. Originally released on LP by Prestige, The New Boss Guitar of George Benson was reissued on CD for Fantasy’s Original Jazz Classics series in 1990 (where Fantasy added “My Three Sons,” a driving bonus track that finds Benson, McDuff and Holloway appearing on drummer Joe Dukes’ The Soulful Drums session of May 14, 1964). In 1964, Benson’s best work was yet to come — nonetheless, this album is historically important as well as rewarding.

01 – Shadow Dancers 04:49
02 – The Sweet Alice Blues 04:42
03 – I Don’t Know 06:52
04 – Just Another Sunday 03:05
05 – Will You Still Be Mine 04:31
06 – Easy Living 06:41
07 – Rock-a-Bye 04:02
08 – My Three Sons 05:37

George Benson – guitar
Jack McDuff – piano, organ
Red Holloway – tenor saxophone
Ronnie Boykins – bass
Montego Joe – drums
Joe Dukes – drums (#8 only)

Recorded in New York; May 1, 1964.
(“My Three Sons” recorded May 14, 1964.)

Label: Prestige – OJC
Year: 1990
Genre: Jazz
Style: Hard Bop, Soul Jazz
Total Time: 40:19

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork