One of the greatest jazz guitarists ever, R&B singer, crooner, songwriter in soul vein, pop star: George Benson is an artist with a multifaceted talent. You just need to look at the different categories in which he has won his ten Grammys (with twenty-five nominations) to understand that few like him have been able to make a virtuous and artistically relevant synthesis among the various souls of Black Music.
A performer of great commercial success (with many gold and platinum records to his credit), Benson has always been careful not to derogate from the canons of quality and taste that have made him one of the most respected personalities of international show business.
Among his many awards, it should be remembered that in 2009 Benson was awarded the National Endowment of the Arts as “Jazz Master”, the highest honour of the United States in the field of jazz. Benson’s beginnings were as a guitarist, follower of the tradition that went from Charlie Christian to Wes Montgomery. At this stage he was often heard in small bands with organists like Jack McDuff and Lonnie Smith and then with jazz stars like Freddie Hubbard. Miles Davis wanted him in the studio to record Paraphernalia, a track in Miles in the Sky. In the mid-seventies, with his transition to Warner, a new career as a vocalist began but without ever abandoning the six strings.
In this capacity George Benson has reached the peak of popularity, often associating his name with that of other stars such as Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Chet Atkins, Al Jarreau. His 2007 tour with the unforgettable voice funambulist, Jarreau, to promote their album Givin’ it up, included a date at Umbria Jazz.