That's Right

George Benson

GRP Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


[Adapted from a review originally appearing in On The Town magazine on January 7, 1997]

Sophistication, thy name is George.

George Benson has spent 25 years wringing the sweetest notes imaginable out of his guitar, and as he showed on last fall’s tour, he's still got some left. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 That's Right, produced at Minnesota's Paisley Park studios under the watchful eye of He-of-the-Unprounounceable-Symbol-Name, proves it and more.

Over his long career, Benson has varied his approach between mostly instrumental jazz guitar work (where he began), and smooth, soulful vocal numbers (which led him to major hits like "On Broadway" and "The Greatest Love of All"—though the latter was an even bigger hit for that angel-voiced Whitney girl).

On this newest venture, he mixes both approaches to typically pleasing effect. “That's Right,” “The Thinker,” “P Park” and the three other all-instrumental tunes on this disc are classic Benson forays, with gently insistent r & b grooves supporting his understated but extremely deft lead guitar. “Marvin Said,” a right-on tribute to Marvin Gaye, features both Benson's nimble fingers and his terrific, often soaring scat-singing. “Summer Love” and “Footprints in the Sand” complete the picture with full vocals on a pair of romantic tunes, the former an upbeat, danceable number and the latter a sweetly sung ballad.

The most attractive thing about Benson (who looks on the cover like he hasn't aged a day in the last 20 years), though, has always been the sense of total class that his music exudes. There are no missed notes here, no sloppy moments of joyful musical disarray. That's in its own way somewhat of an anti-jazz perspective, that seamlessness, but in Benson's expert hands, it comes off as supreme sophistication. And that's a worthy goal, too.

Rating: B

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© 2014 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of GRP Records, and is used for informational purposes only.