By the time George Benson released Love Remembers for Warner in 1993, he had basically accomplished everything a musician could ever dream of: he has played with a who's who of jazz greats, scored big as both a jazz and an R&B artist, won numerous Grammys, and had his name become synonymous with two different radio formats: adult contemporary and smooth jazz. Long the bane of "serious" jazz critics, Benson didn't even need to think about it: he made music that communicated to millions from one record to the next -- the man had a single or album somewhere on the charts ubiquitously from 1975 until the turn of the 20th century! This 12-track set listed a number of fine producers on its roster including Bob James, Stewart Levine, Gary Henry, Jimmy George, and David Gamson, in addition to the man himself . The set begins with the laid-back funky soul of Brian McKnight's "I'll Be Good to You." Benson's voice and Wah Wah Watson's guitar twin intro lines in trademark fashion before gliding right into the sensual lyric. The interesting thing here -- besides the overwhelming infectiousness of the groove -- is what a fine singer Benson had become by this time. With Ndugu Chandler on the kit, William Bryant on the Fender Rhodes, Bill Summers on percussion, and McKnight on backing vocals, the tune is unbeatable as an album opener -- radio listeners thought so, too. "Got to Be There" is a romantic ballad with Benson in the guitar as well as vocal chairs, Melvin Davis holding down the big bank of keys, and Gary Henry handling the programmed loops and percussion samples. It's elegant, graceful and drenched in atmosphere. The old CTI gang gets together again on the Bob James produced instrumental "My Heart Is Dancing" by Omar Hakim. James Benson, Hubert Laws, Richard Tee, Randy Brecker, and Hakim team with relative newcomer Kirk Whalum on saxophone. It's an easy, mysterious groover with hip guitar work and horn charts. Another fine instrumental on the set is Whalum's "Willing to Fight," with James, bassist Will Lee, Hakim, Whalum and especially Benson all in fine form. This one got played like crazy on contemporary jazz radio stations at the time, and despite the dated sound of its production, holds up beautifully as a composition. Benson turns in another inspired vocal performance on "Lovin' on Borrowed Time," a mid-tempo soul tune written by Benson and John F. Hammond. A real surprise is the second from last cut, a cover of Ronnie Foster's "Lost in Love," with Phil Upchurch guesting on rhythm guitar and the composer on keyboards along with Paulinho Da Costa on percussion. A shimmering buckle shiner of a track, its groove is drenched in melody with Foster's keys hovering right around Benson's lead lines with Upchurch painting the backdrop with gorgeous chord fills. Love Remembers is certainly a solid high mark for Benson in the '90s, and anyone interested in Benson's brand of pop will be delighted with it.
Love Remembers Review
by Thom Jurek