George Benson was only 21 when, on May 1, 1964, he recorded his first album as a leader, The New Boss Guitar of George Benson. At that point, the guitarist had yet to become a huge name in jazz, although many of those who knew Benson for his work with Jack McDuff’s group (which he joined in 1962) agreed that he showed great potential. Benson still had some growing to do in 1964, but even so, this is an impressive debut. The guitarist had developed a distinctive, recognizable sound on his instrument, and he plays with both feeling and technique on five Benson originals (including the sly “Shadow Dancers,” the exuberant “Rock-A-Bye,” and the earthy blues “I Don’t Know”) as well as interpretations of “Easy Living” and “Will You Still Be Mine.” Benson, of course, had an insightful teacher in McDuff, who plays both organ and piano on this hard bop/soul-jazz date. Tenor saxophonist Red Holloway, another member of McDuff’s early ’60s group, is also on board, as are bassist Ronnie Boykins and drummer Montego Joe. Originally released on LP by Prestige, The New Boss Guitar of George Benson was reissued on CD for Fantasy’s Original Jazz Classics series in 1990 (where Fantasy added “My Three Sons,” a driving bonus track that finds Benson, McDuff and Holloway appearing on drummer Joe Dukes’ The Soulful Drums session of May 14, 1964). In 1964, Benson’s best work was yet to come — nonetheless, this album is historically important as well as rewarding. – Alex Hendersonmore »
The New Boss Guitar
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