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George Benson Guitar man
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ed norton



Joined: 03 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JakeJew wrote:
I just realized that in these discussion no one ever considers that he actually digs the music he's playing. Maybe he does...


Well for me that's it Jake. He just likes that music.

If I listen to Benson I would go right to "Breezin". I'm 48 and grew up on all kinds of music. I love "Breezin", but I guess that's not a cool choice. I don't think he ever went back after that album . He became something different than just a burner, and he's had a great career. He's a living legend who has payed dues that young artists could never understand, cause he came up at a different time. For example he probably slept in different hotels than whites while touring the south . Bebop? shit as a kid he played on street corners for Charlie Parker. It's kinda lame to criticize him, I mean he's arguably one of the five or ten greatest ever.
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Jim Soloway



Joined: 16 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess this is a reasonable first post here Smile

I saw Benson in concert this past summer. If you asked me for one word to describe him, it wouldn't have been guitarist, it would have been entertainer. He's really good at it too. He's also a great pop singer and he's had a lot of really big hits, more than I realized. The show wasn't jazz by any definition that would be used here, but it was a great performance that had about 1200 people up from their seats, dancing and screaming after every song. Most guitar players probably would have been disappointed, but my wife (and all the other hundreds of wives there) had a great time.

BTW, he opened the show with two long instrumentals and he was the only soloist in both. It wasn't bop, but it was about 12 minutes of continuous playing without one single note that didn't feel just right. He then put his guitar down and sang two ballads. That's just who he is and he seems really comfortable with it.
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PaulD



Joined: 18 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Jim, nice to see you here! I also see Benson as an entertainer who knows how to work a crowd. He seems to enjoy it, and his audience definitely does.

There's a Dizzy Gillespie quote that comes to mind: "They're not particular about whether you're playing a flatted fifth or a ruptured 129th as long as they can dance to it." I think GB just caters to his audience rather than other musicians. Nothing wrong with that that I can see Cool

Paul
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Tag



Joined: 23 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cjm wrote:
Gorecki wrote:
planetguy wrote:
so, why NOT make an album (or three) of the good stuff? or as it was suggested above...make a hot tub album for the $....and then balance it w something a little more substantive.


The simplest answer would likely be he doesn't want too? I highly doubt anyone is holding a gun to his head saying "you make a jazz album, you die!" He has the ability and the resources; my guess is he really doesn’t want to.


I dunno. It's not like I've monitored his every move, but it's been years since I've heard him even attempt anything serious.

So he makes a real jazz album...and his chops aren't what they should be because he hasn't been playing jazz...the album invites comparison with some of the real masters...and oopsie: Legendary guitar god status evaporates.

When he was a kid and playing a bit of jazz back in the 1960's, he was not as proficient as some of the really big names...but nobody expected him to be because he was inexperienced. In fact, he was sort of remarkable for having achieved as much as he had by his twenties.

But now he is nearly 70 and I think most of us sort of expect that his playing would have evolved and matured over the intervening 40 years...but he hasn't been doing much of anything as a jazz guitarist that would hone his skills and tastes.

So maybe he doesn't do it because he thinks he can't.

I'm probably wrong, but it is something that just occurred to me when I read your post...


Your wrong. While age is starting to take its toll, GB is probably still the baddest jazz guitarist on the face of the earth. I still hear recordings of him playing with a few guys I know, and he flat out kills anything he plays.
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cjm



Joined: 16 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tag wrote:


Your wrong. While age is starting to take its toll, GB is probably still the baddest jazz guitarist on the face of the earth. I still hear recordings of him playing with a few guys I know, and he flat out kills anything he plays.


Don't get me wrong, Benson is a good player. But in terms of technique I don't think he was ever close to being "the baddest jazz guitarist on the face of the earth."

His reputation and popularity got a huge boost among the general public because he quit doing jazz for a while and women in particular wanted his "Breezin'" album on the stereo all the time. "This Masquerade" was on the radio every couple of hours.

So Benson was and is about the only jazz guitarist that most people can name. but...
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Henryrobinett



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah . . . I don't know about that. Technically Benson is about tops. What he can do effortlessly, his phrasing, ridiculous right hand technique, is pretty much stand alone.

I heard, maybe an interview, maybe someone who knew him well, I don't remember - but he always wanted to be a singer. THAT was always his goal. Guitar was just something he loved doing and happened to do it better than just about anyone else. But also he's home schooled. He's one of those crazy guys, like Bireli Lagrene, who doesn't read. Well Benson is different because he knows his chords, unlike Lagrene. Benson as a kiod used to pick up coins by SINGING on the street.

I think jazz folk don't understand someone like George Benson. Benson hasn't sold out. Benson is doing exactly what he wanted to so, is my guess. But he has to deal with pressure from the jazz police who accuse him of selling out. Silly.
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cjm



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henryrobinett wrote:
Ah . . . I don't know about that. Technically Benson is about tops. What he can do effortlessly, his phrasing, ridiculous right hand technique, is pretty much stand alone.

I heard, maybe an interview, maybe someone who knew him well, I don't remember - but he always wanted to be a singer. THAT was always his goal. Guitar was just something he loved doing and happened to do it better than just about anyone else. But also he's home schooled. He's one of those crazy guys, like Bireli Lagrene, who doesn't read. Well Benson is different because he knows his chords, unlike Lagrene. Benson as a kiod used to pick up coins by SINGING on the street.

I think jazz folk don't understand someone like George Benson. Benson hasn't sold out. Benson is doing exactly what he wanted to so, is my guess. But he has to deal with pressure from the jazz police who accuse him of selling out. Silly.


I guess I don't see it as a matter of his having "sold out," so much as a matter of whether his life's work adds up to a career as a jazz guitarist, and therefore, whether or not he is relevant and interesting as a jazz guitarist.

I don't feel a truck driver has "sold out" because he or she isn't playing jazz.
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Henryrobinett



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, you're right about that. No argument there! But I think his place in history is secure, though it may end up being no more than a bold footnote.
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JakeJew



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henryrobinett wrote:
Ah . . . I don't know about that. Technically Benson is about tops. What he can do effortlessly, his phrasing, ridiculous right hand technique, is pretty much stand alone.

I heard, maybe an interview, maybe someone who knew him well, I don't remember - but he always wanted to be a singer. THAT was always his goal. Guitar was just something he loved doing and happened to do it better than just about anyone else. But also he's home schooled. He's one of those crazy guys, like Bireli Lagrene, who doesn't read. Well Benson is different because he knows his chords, unlike Lagrene. Benson as a kiod used to pick up coins by SINGING on the street.

I think jazz folk don't understand someone like George Benson. Benson hasn't sold out. Benson is doing exactly what he wanted to so, is my guess. But he has to deal with pressure from the jazz police who accuse him of selling out. Silly.


Is that ture about Bireli? He doesn't read music or know theory or anything?
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Henryrobinett



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's as I understand it. Like Holdsworth. He doesn't even know the names of his chords! Amazing.
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JakeJew



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henryrobinett wrote:
That's as I understand it. Like Holdsworth. He doesn't even know the names of his chords! Amazing.


Don't take this personally, but, do you have a source to share for either of those guys?
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JakeJew



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a quick google, according to this interview he didn't learn his chord names at first but now knows them and can read chord charts:

http://www.wideospaces.com/peter/folk_routes/panick_bireli.htm
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Henryrobinett



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know some folks who play with him from time to time.
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Gorecki
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Taking a look at that interview, it appears as Henry said, he still doesn't "Read". The difference between seeing Dm7b5 on a page and being able to play one vs notes on a staff, clefs and key signatures are worlds apart when making a reference to "Reading Music".
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Henryrobinett



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My understanding is he's an intuitive player. I have a gypsy guitarist, french guy, who plays with him and told me as late as last year, what an honor to play with him and how remarkable he is because he doesn't even know what the names of the chords he's playing are.

Being able to figure them out and KNOWING them well enough to read a chord sheet on the band stand are two different things. And I don't think there's anything wrong or derogatory about this. Back in the day so many of the true genius, master musicians fell into this category. It's only relatively recently, with college courses and method books that we've come to any organized, systematic approaches to chords. There's even some question how much Bird knew in this regard.

For me this helps to explain why Bireli is not more part of the general musical landscape and why he hasn't appeared as sideman to musicians doing more adventurous modern music. As I said, he's similar to Hodsworth. I knew "Flim" Jimmy Johnson who played with him for a long time. He writes all this dense harmonic music, but has no idea what any of those chords are called. Flim would have to have Allan play them while he (Flim) translated the chords and wrote charts for himself.

I think it's pretty astounding myself. Years ago I played with an amazing pianist who -- wasn't exactly similar, but wasn't as educated as you might assume from the way she played. I realized then that all this theory stuff was really for LESS TALENTED people, like myself, so we could figure out how in the hell THOSE people do what they do. THEY don't
need to know the names of chords and other theoretical bullshit. They ALREADY know it.
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