George Benson – In Flight {WB}


Review by Richard S. Ginell (allmusic.com)

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.

Tracks:
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

Personnel:
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

Ben Sidran – Mr. P’s Shuffle {GoJazz}[MFSL]


Review by Mike Holmes (epinions.com)

I’ve been listening to Ben Sidran and playing his music on my radio show for years but this is my first review of one of his albums. Sidran is truly a Renaissance man. He is an accomplished author of three books (“Black Talk”, “Talking Jazz”, and, “A Life in the Music”), he hosted a Peabody-award-winning NPR show (“Jazz Alive”) as well as VH-1’s “New Vision” series. He has an advanced degree from Sussex College.

Oh, and, he plays piano and organ, produces music, sings and composes. Born in Chicago in 1943, Sidran started doing gigs while a teenager. In the early 60’s while still in college, Ben joined a group known as the Ardell’s with a couple of fairly well known musicians (later on), Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs. He played with that group for a while but then continued his studies.

In the late 60’s, Sidran re-joined Miller and wrote the lyrics for one of Miller’s big hits “Space Cowboy.” Sidran moved on, however, and started recording on his own in the early 70’s. He excelled in jazz, modern jazz, rock and pop.

In the early 70’s, his wife grew tired of L.A. and the couple moved back to Madison, Wisconsin where Ben started played in a small club known as The Tuxedo Lounge. That club soon changed its name to Mr. P’s. After playing all over the world for the next two decades, Sidran was called by Mr. P’s owner to play a gig. He almost refused but decided to go back to his “roots”. What he found there gave him a new appreciation for music.

He and his son Leo (who plays the drums) played the gig and continued playing there off and on for a few years. Sidran enjoyed the club atmosphere so much that he wrote the song “Mr. P’s Shuffle” in honor of the original owner. In 1996, he decided to record this album in honor of the club and the man who gave him so much joy.

After listening to the CD, I could understand what Sidran was talking about in his liner notes for the album. The music on the record is a relaxed visit to old friends played with old friends. There is a cool joy with a hipness that reminds me of the old “beat” days of the 50’s and 60’s. A major part of that is due to the ability of Sidran to create the hip atmosphere but he also recruited an incredible group of musicians for the album.

Tracks:
01 – I’m Back
02 – Like a Boat on the Water
03 – Sentimental Journey
04 – Get Happy
05 – Jive Samba
06 – I’m Not Talking
07 – The Glory of Love
08 – Mr. P’s Shuffle
09 – Walk Right In
10 – Lover Man
11 – No Moon at All
12 – Memory Lane

Personnel:
Ben Sidran – piano & vocal
Richard Davis – bass
Clyde Stubblefield – drums
Leo Sidran – drums
Frank Morgan – alto saxophone
Phil Upchurch – guitar
Ricky Peterson – hammond B-3 organ
Margie Cox – background vocal
Alejo Poveda – percussion
Howard Levy – harmonica
Roscoe Mitchell – soprano saxophone

Recorded at Smart Studios, Madison, WI.
Additional recording at Creation Audio, Minneapolis, MN.
Released on 1996.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Carmen McRae – Fine and Mellow (Live at Birdland West) {Concord}


Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

Although Carmen McRae is the obvious star of her live record (which has been reissued on CD), she gives plenty of solo space to her notable all-star band (Red Holloway on tenor and alto, organist Jack McDuff, guitarist Phil Upchurch, bassist John Clayton, and drummer Paul Humphrey). McRae did not record in this context with an organ group very often. All seven songs (which range in length from four minutes to the nine-and-a-half-minute title track) are swing-era standards except for Eubie Blake’s “My Handy Man Ain’t Handy No More,” which dates back to the early ’20s, but McRae updates them a bit and makes them sound relevant and swinging. Recommended.

Tracks:
01 – What Is This Thing Called Love
02 – What Can I Say After I Say I’m Sorry
03 – Fine and Mellow
04 – These Foolish Things Remind Me of You
05 – Black and Blue
06 – One More Chance
07 – Untill the Real Thing Comes Along
08 – My Handy Man Ain’t Handy No More

Personnel:
Carmen McRae – vocals
Red Holloway – tenor & alto saxophone
John Clayton – bass
Paul Humphrey – drums
Jack McDuff – organ
Phil Upchurch – guitar

Recorded live at Birdland West, Long Beach, CA; December 1987

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork