George Benson, Saturday, June 26 @ 8 PM Queen Elizabeth Theatre
4th December 2009 — 10-time Grammy Award winning superstar George Benson is both a jazz guitar legend and an extraordinary vocalist with great emotional range and sophistication. “Nobody can play [guitar] like George Benson and I know because I’m among the many who have tried,” confides guitarist John Scofield. Yet, Benson also sings magnificently with a lush soulful tenor that draws comparisons to Nat King Cole, Stevie Wonder, and Donny Hathaway.
A child-prodigy singer from Pittsburgh, George honed his jazz chops on guitar with Brother Jack McDuff’s organ combo in the early 1960s and went on to perform with the likes of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Frank Sinatra, and Tony Bennett while leading his own bands. In the 70s he surged to crossover stardom with the triple-platinum album Breezin’ (Warner). The title track became a pop-jazz standard, and his bluesy rendition of Leon Russell’s “This Masquerade” was the first song in history to reach #1 on the jazz, R&B, and pop charts. The decade also brought Billboard chart busters “Nature Boy,” “On Broadway,” “Give Me the Night,” and “Turn Your Love Around.”
Since then, Benson has crafted a string of quality recordings that have consolidated his global reputation as a potent double threat. Some notable releases include the standards album Tenderly with McCoy Tyner on piano, a session with the Basie band, Givin’ it Up, a Grammy winning duet recording with Al Jarreau, and the latest offering, Songs and Stories (Concord), a collection of tunes penned by some of the most prolific songwriters of the last half-century such as Smokey Robinson, James Taylor, Lamont Dozier, and Bill Withers.
Throughout his career Benson has embraced everything from straight-ahead jazz to R&B, and pop vocals. He is one of a handful of artists who have achieved major critical and commercial success in different genres and this matchless versatility makes him one of the most respected performers of the past 30 years.
The 25th annual TD Canada Trust Vancouver International Jazz Festival, produced by Coastal Jazz, runs from June 25-July 4, 2010. Tickets may be purchased at Ticketmaster 604.280.4444 or by calling the Coastal Jazz Box Office at 604.872.5200. Complete Festival details available April 28 at coastaljazz.ca