George Benson: The jazz voice

George Benson is an artist rich in musical diversity. Known primarily as a guitarist and singer, he is also a composer and singer-songwriter of the highest calibre. He has performed on stages the world over, and his albums have won prestigious prizes and awards. George Benson remains one of the most talented and influential musicians of his time.

A busy career

George Benson was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1943. From an early age, he was interested in music, and began playing guitar and singing. By the age of ten, he was already joining local bands. His career took off at the age of 16 when he joined the blues band “The Juke Joints”. In 1966, he signed his first contract and released his first solo album, “The New Boss Guitar of George Benson”. Over the course of his career, he released a variety of albums that included jazz, funk, rock and pop.

Jazz inspiration

In the 1970s, George Benson explored jazz influences for his albums. This period of his career became known as the “Benson Jazz Era”. His most successful album from this period is “Breezin'”, which contains the title track that became a huge commercial success. The album reached number 1 in the U.S. and sold over 5 million copies worldwide. The song became a jazz classic and is still considered one of the best songs George Benson ever wrote.

His success

In the 1960s, he performed for LP Records and also released several solo albums. He received the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance in 1976 for his album Breezin’. In 1977, he released his album Sign Language, which enjoyed great commercial success thanks to the singles “Breezin'” and “This Masquerade”, which reached #1 and #3 respectively on the R&B charts.

The album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, and contributed to her worldwide popularity. Her vocal performance on the pop/soul tracks “Give Me the Night” and “Turn Your Love Around” also enjoyed radio success. These songs are an integral part of her discography.

International success

In addition to his success in the jazz genre, George Benson also found success in other musical genres. His 1978 album “Weekend in L.A.” became an international commercial success and won Grammy Awards. He has also collaborated with artists such as Quincy Jones and Miles Davis. His album “Give Me The Night” became another big hit, reaching the Top 10 in the U.S. and U.K. charts and selling over 5 million copies worldwide.

His musical style

George Benson has fundamentally influenced the jazz fusion genre and contemporary jazz. His performances are renowned for their speed and precision; he is considered a technical virtuoso. Benson’s music is both rich and versatile; he combines classical tradition and modern swing, rhythm and blues, soul and Latin music, applying varied approaches to each genre.

He also proved an important influence on future jazz artists, including Pat Metheny, Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, Danny Gatton and John Scofield.

Life after music

In the 2000s, George Benson stopped making music. But he continues to perform on stage, giving concerts and shows around the world. He has also appeared in film and television. He has been honored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) and has received several Grammy Awards. The holder of the French Ordre National du Mérite was honored as an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France in 2011.

Latest projects

George Benson retired from recording studios in the mid-2000s, but is still working on new projects. In 2015, he released a new album entitled “Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole”, which pays tribute to legendary jazz artist Nat King Cole. The album received critical acclaim and won a Grammy Award. In 2017, he released a new album of jazz standards entitled “Walk the Walk”.

An enduring influence

Since signing with Columbia Records, George Benson has released over a dozen albums – some of which have won Grammy Awards – and accompanied many other artists. His contribution to music is appreciated by millions of fans, earning him several honorary awards, including the George and Ira Gershwin Lifetime Achievement Award. Unsurprisingly, his influences are still very much present in contemporary music, and his compositions are an integral part of modern jazz history.

Over the course of his long career, George Benson has touched many lives around the world with his unique music. His inimitable style combined with exceptional instrumental technique make him a remarkable musician who has left his mark on jazz history. Thanks to him, many modern artists have been able to draw on his ideas and create their own versions of his classic tunes. Whether with his guitar, his vocals or his compositions, George Benson is a living monument to jazz music who continues to inspire us to this day.

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