The music he made when George Benson returned to jazz showcased part of what was best about Benson's music: his versatility. He was equally at home with small ensembles, with a big band, with a string section, with hard bop, with Latin-inflected selections, with popular stylings. Through the 1990s Benson, his popularity assured, appeared in a wide variety of concert situations, and continued to manage well the balance he had achieved between the worlds of jazz and pop. He moved to the jazz-oriented GRP label in 1996, releasing the album That's Right, a quiet-storm-styled work, and following it up 1998's Standing Together in the same smooth-jazz vein.
For all his success, Benson's life has been shadowed by personal tragedy. He has lost three of his seven sons, one to kidney failure, one to crib death, and one to gunshot injuries stemming from a bar fight. His losses led to an unusual commission in 1998: he was asked by father Mohammed Al Fayed to write s song in commemoration of Dodi Al Fayed, who died along with his friend Princess Diana of England in a 1997 automobile crash in Paris. "During the writing, I asked my wife to come listen to what I had written," Benson was quoted as saying in Jet. "But when I got to certain parts, it became too difficult. My lips were trembling. I was thinking about my own losses and couldn't get past it. It stopped me cold."
Appreciated as both musician and performer by millions, George Benson has always had the duel personae of expert improviser and vibrant entertainer. He has always placed his keenly discerning art in the service of a rousing good time. Rounding out his singular approach with sly, seductive rhythm and blues, he's earned himself an impeccable reputation as one of music's most enterprising and engaging stars.