Frost School Students Collaborate with George Benson

Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra performs on jazz guitarist's new album

Coral Gables (June 10, 2013) — More than 40 musicians from the University of Miami Frost School of Music’s Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra are featured on Concord Music Group’s recent release of the legendary George Benson’s latest album, Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole.

The Henry Mancini Institute (HMI) Orchestra, which is under the artistic direction of Terence Blanchard, is a highly selective ensemble that provides a new spectrum of artistic creation and exploration. Benson selected the ensemble for his new release.

“The experience was one that the HMI Orchestra members will never forget,” said Stephen J. Guerra Jr., managing director of the Frost School’s Henry Mancini Institute. “They worked very closely with one of the greatest musicians of all time and can now say that they played on an album with George Benson. Being in the studio with George and his team was just a taste of the promising careers that many of these students will enjoy after leaving the Frost School. Every single one of them rose to the occasion, playing and acting like a professional in every way.”

After four years of touring and developing “An Unforgettable Tribute to Nat King Cole,” including a Jazz Roots concert at the Adrienne Arsht Center accompanied by the HMI Orchestra, Benson considers this recording one of the most meaningful of his career and a testament to the spirit of Cole’s timeless body of work. Benson’s heartfelt renditions of some of Cole’s greatest songs with Nelson Riddle arrangements and the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra are complemented by duets with Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel and rising star Judith Hill, along with a special collaboration with multi-Grammy- and Pulitzer Prize-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. The sessions with the HMI Orchestra were recorded at the Hit Factory/Criteria Studios in North Miami.

Highlights on the album performed by the HMI Orchestra include an adaptation of Nelson Riddle’s arrangement of “Just One of Those Things,” with a signature Benson vocal/guitar scat solo and Benson’s reading of the original chart of “Nature Boy,” which he previously interpreted and made as a pop hit in the late 1970s.

“I felt every moment of it. You can’t put together a record like this without putting your heart into it,” Benson said. “I got that from Nat King Cole. He put his heart into everything he did.”

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The Frost School’s Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra with George Benson

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