The Art Of Jazz, recorded in his house, in Hawaii.
Guitarist George Benson's polished style emerged out of the innovations of Wes Montgomery, and took him from the organ trios of the 1960s to the very top of the pop charts. Benson's albums have consistently showcased his abilities as a singer and entertainer, while never sacrificing his refined jazz sensibilities and technique.
Benson was born on March 22nd, 1943 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and grew up in the city's "Hill District," an African-American neighborhood with an active jazz scene, which also gave birth to musicians such as Billy Strayhorn and Kenny Clarke. He started out as a child performing ukelele-inspired vocal numbers with his stepfather, and has stated that his goal from a young age was to learn how to entertain people. As an adolescent, he was given an electric guitar as a gift, and began to play local Pittsburgh clubs. On one occasion he met his hero, Wes Montgomery, who encouraged the young player to continue his efforts.
By the mid- to late 1970s, as he recorded for Warner Bros. Records, a whole new audience began to discover Benson. With the 1976 release Breezin', Benson sang a lead vocal on the track "This Masquerade", which became a huge pop hit and won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. (He had sung vocals infrequently on albums earlier in his career, notably his rendition of "Here Comes the Sun" on the Other Side of Abbey Road album.) The rest of the album is instrumental, including his rendition of the 1975 Jose Feliciano composition "Affirmation". Breezin′ was a significant album in terms of popular music history – the first jazz release to go platinum. In 1976, Benson toured with soul singer Minnie Riperton, who had been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer earlier that year. Also in 1976, George Benson appeared as a guitarist and backup vocalist on Stevie Wonder's song "Another Star" from Wonder's album Songs in the Key of Life. He also recorded the original version of "The Greatest Love of All" for the 1977 Muhammad Ali bio-pic, The Greatest, which was later covered by Whitney Houston as "Greatest Love of All". During this time Benson recorded with the German conductor Claus Ogerman. The live take of "On Broadway", recorded a few months later from the 1978 release Weekend in L.A., also won a Grammy. He has worked with Freddie Hubbard on a number of his albums throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He became one of Jehovah's Witnesses in 1979, where he is still active to date.
The Qwest record label (a subsidiary of Warner Bros., run by Quincy Jones) released Benson's breakthrough pop album Give Me The Night, produced by Jones. Benson made it into the pop and R&B top ten with the song "Give Me the Night" (written by former Heatwave keyboardist Rod Temperton). More importantly, Quincy Jones encouraged Benson to search his roots for further vocal inspiration, and he re-discovered his love for Nat Cole, Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway in the process, influencing a string of further vocal albums into the 1990s. Despite returning to his jazz and guitar playing most recently, this theme was reflected again much later in Benson's 2000 release Absolute Benson, featuring a cover of one of Hathaway's most notable songs, "The Ghetto". Benson accumulated three other platinum LPs and two gold albums.