Sunday, September 18, 2016

George 'Bad' Benson

Preceding Breezin', his crossover smash for Warner in 1976, Bad Benson shows the guitarist still hanging on to his Wes Montgomery roots in places while stretching his soul-jazz persona into even funkier arenas. CTI had a formula for making funky, accessible jazz and fusion records that in 1974 still held true. Arranged by Don Sebesky, Bad Benson is a collection of delicious, varied, and sometimes confusing choices. Benson's own playing is precise and smooth as always, and guitarist Phil Upchurch keeps a large color palette for him to draw from, as in the funkified version of "Take Five." Other notables are the stellar "My Latin Brother," which begins as a Debussy-ian impressionistic string study before becoming a heavily arpeggiated variation on the samba. Kenny Barron's pianism here is the driving force behind a rhythm section that also includes drummer Steve Gadd and bassist Ron Carter. They give Benson a harmonic floor for one of the most inspiring solos of his career. These intensely meaty cuts — along with Upchurch's stellar swinging in the pocket groover "Full Compass" — are juxtaposed against ballads such as "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams" and "The Changing World," a pair of ballads that ape Montgomery's later snore-fest session for A&M. Thankfully, Legacy's remastered CD version includes three bonus tracks from the session : a hip and syncopated read of "Take the 'A' Train" (with truly surreal and shimmering colors courtesy of Sebesky's string section) and the amazingly driving, greasy funk of "Serbian Blue," as well as a simply beautiful — and brief — solo from Benson called "From Now On." Not a great album, but a very, very good one.
Thom Jurek

Source :

George Benson
Bad Benson
[Bonus Tracks]


1 Take Five (Desmond)  7:08
2 Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams (Bergman, Bergman, Mandel)  2:58
3 My Latin Brother (Benson)  6:50
4 No Sooner Said Than Done (Upchurch)  5:59
5 Full Compass (Upchurch)  5:42
6 The Changing World (Benson, Gore)  4:55
7 Take the 'A' Train [*] (Strayhorn)  4:15
8 Serbian Blue [*] (Sebesky)  13:05
9 From Now On [#/*] (Benson)  2:21

#/* previously unreleased


George Benson - g
Phil Upchurch - g, el. b [# 5 only] & perc [# 3 & 8]
Kenny Baron - p
Ron Carter - b
Steve Gadd - dr
plus large ensemble
Don Sebesky - arr. & cond

Recorded at Van Gelder Studios, Hackensack, New Jersey, between April 22 & July 20, 1974

(Complete details inside)


Thomas said...

One of the very first jazz lps I used to listen to frequently when I was just discovering jazz. I bought this cd reissue a couple of years ago in a nostalgic moment. I think Thom Jurek's review is pretty spot on. I remember this as quite a disc to show off a stereo also. Benson also had a big spot on the title cut from Freddie Hubbard's CTI date, First Light which I remember fondly.

rog said...

Mel, Bad is good but not great, yet fun funky. My Latin Brother is great music for a Dick Dale old surf movie which I played... and no, I don't inhale. Thanks :-)

Kovina Kris said...

I'm eager to hear this. Thank you!

L.O.L. said...

thanks for the upgrade:)

jbl said...

I agree with most of the comments, to me it's a good album but nothing exceptionnel. I don't want to sound too know all, but the album certainly wasn't recorded at Hackensack but Englewood Cliffs (he moved in 1959). Thanks anyway as always.

Bhowani said...

It's a BAD Benson, but thanks anyway

the doc said...

all Benson is worthwhile

Melanchthon said...

deGallo said...

I like it. Thank you.

Cri said...

very cool, Mel. Thx. Cri

Geoviki said...

Thanks, Mel, I can finally hear the rest of the album (I have 3 tracks which I really do like).

Starchild said...

Many thanks Mel!