Ten-time Grammy winner and NEA Jazz Master George Benson is heralded as a jazz guitarist of unparalleled chops and a vocalist with great emotional range and sophistication.
Benson’s musical passion began early. At age eight, he was singing and playing the ukulele in local nightclubs in Pittsburgh. By his teenage years, he had switched to guitar, and his musical sensibilities shifted toward jazz, and the music of Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian and Charlie Parker.
Benson launched his solo career in 1964 with The New Boss Guitar, which got the attention of Columbia Records. Benson recorded two solo albums for Columbia, playing session dates for others, including Miles Davis’ 1968 opus, Miles in the Sky.
Benson left Columbia in the late ’60s, recording on several labels before meeting producer Tommy LiPuma, who encouraged Benson to sing. The result was Breezin’, the 1976 blockbuster album that began a long association with Warner Brothers. Breezin’ was the first jazz record to achieve platinum sales, and the hits included the title track, an update of Leon Russell’s “This Masquerade,” and “Give Me The Night.” In the mid-’90s, Benson followed LiPuma to the GRP label, releasing That’s Right (1996) and Standing Together (1998).
Benson’s recent recordings include Absolute Benson (2000), Irreplaceable (2004), Givin’ It Up (2006), a duet recording with Al Jarreau that earned two Grammy Awards, and Songs and Stories (2009) on Concord Records / Monster Music.