George Benson Performs An Unforgettable Tribute to Nat King Cole
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The last date listed for George Benson - An Unforgettable Tribute to Nat King Cole was Saturday May 30, 2009 / 8:00pm.
Currently at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Segerstrom Hall
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Watch preview video of George Benson.
Appreciated as both a musician and performer by millions, George Benson has always had the dual role of expert improviser and vibrant entertainer. He has consistently placed his keenly discerning art in the service of a rousing good time. Rounding out his singular approach with sly, seductive rhythm and blues, he’s earned himself an impeccable reputation as one of music’s most enterprising and engaging stars.
Few might have predicted that striking level of stardom some forty years ago, when Benson was a fledgling guitarist working the corner pubs of his native Pittsburgh. It was Wes Montgomery, one of jazz’s most creative players, who came across Benson early on. Montgomery had called one of his best records Boss Guitar and Benson had both the conviction and chops to nip at his hero’s heels. In the early 1960s, Benson apprenticed with jazz organist Brother Jack McDuff and released The New Boss Guitar in 1964. By the time legendary talent scout John Hammond signed Benson to Columbia, the guitarist’s name was bubbling throughout the industry. In the late ’60s, he sat in on Miles Davis sessions, and also put a personal spin on the tunes from the Beatles’ Abbey Road.
In the ‘70s, Benson was united with many of jazz’s finest instrumentalists, including Stanley Turrentine, Ron Carter and Freddie Hubbard, and in 1976 with Warner Bros. Records, he recorded Breezin’, the first jazz record to attain platinum sales. He followed up with many pop hits, including a sultry version of “On Broadway” and the irresistible “Give Me the Night,” which thrilled many a dancer. During this time, Benson also concentrated on developing his vocal talents. He was now a superstar.
Throughout the 1980s, Warner Bros. and Tony LiPuma followed their smash success with several terrific Benson records. Individually, they blended grooves and guitar work, proving that R&B was a natural part of Benson’s profile. Collectively, they cemented his global renown.
In 2007, Benson was awarded two Grammys for the Givin’ It Up album he co-recorded with music legend Al Jarreau. These days, the guitarist’s interests are many. He’s often spotted out at Manhattan jazz clubs, checking the action of fledgling guitarists. All told, Benson has won 10 Grammys, recorded over 30 albums and performed around the world, thrilling many crowds with his playing.