George Benson

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Tenderly Review

by Richard S. Ginell

Apparently Benson got the message. Giving up the fruitless search for decent contemporary material, he switched gears and recorded an album of old standards with top-grade jazz musicians (including pianist McCoy Tyner and bassist Ron Carter) and Marty Paich's classy string and brass charts. With good songs to sing, Benson gives some moving performances, particularly on "This Is All I Ask," and there is a lovely reminder of his affinity for the Beatles, "Here There and Everywhere." Moreover, his jazz instincts were fully at his command; you'll hear some remarkable Latin-slanted guitar work on "At the Mambo Inn," some brilliant bebop on "Stella By Starlight" and "I Could Write a Book," and a stunning solo performance of "Tenderly" itself. One could read a bit of calculation into all of this; a Benson riposte to all those critics who thought he'd never play bebop again, an attempt by his record company to pander to an aging fan base. But don't. Enjoy the music, some of the best Benson has made in the 1900s.

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