It's been nearly 30 years since guitarist George Benson released his groundbreaking album Breezin'. Not only did it sell millions of copies, it paved the way for today's "smooth jazz" radio format. Breezin' also made Benson a musical superstar. The title of Benson's latest album sums up the eight-time Grammy winner with one word, Irreplaceable.
There's no one quite like George Benson. He sings; he composes; he weaves between a variety of styles; he's a guitar virtuoso, and he's a showman like no other.
With songs like "Arizona Sunrise," George Benson proves he is still in fine form. To unlock the secret to Benson's success, you have to go back to his days as a sideman with organist Jack McDuff and trumpeter Miles Davis. It didn't hurt that guitar great Wes Montgomery was one of his biggest supporters. A turning point came in 1970, when Benson was signed to CTI Records, the legendary jazz label that featured some of the era's top instrumentalists.
Then came the Breezin' album.
"This Masquerade" was one of a handful of hits from Breezin' that drew more and more listeners to Benson's established fan base. Following the Breezin' phenomenon, switching gears became a George Benson trademark. From albums of pop standards and modern jazz to Latin, funk and blues, Benson has remained unpredictable and irreplaceable.
At 61, George Benson is again at the top of his game. The release of Irreplaceable was preceded by a collection of vintage Benson singles titled The Greatest Hits Of All, as well as his appearances on three different charity albums. In addition, Benson performs two duets with vocalist Vanessa Williams on her new CD, Everlasting Love.
Benson recently returned from a world tour that took him to Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and China. But he won't be sitting still for too long. In February, he'll join forces with saxophonist David Sanborn for a one-night concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.