“Jaguar”: George Benson, Most Exciting New Guitarist

Not sure if you’ve heard of George Benson, but apparently he’s new and very exciting:

As it turns out, he’s not new:  this original instrumental is from 1966 album, It’s Uptown.  But he’s still exciting to listen to nearly 50 years later.

I love the opening salvo of the liner notes:

“George Benson was never the same again:  he had heard a record by guitarist Hank Garland.”

The liner notes go on to say:

“Garland, usually a Country blues musician, had made an album for Columbia with drummer Joe Morello [Dave Brubeck Group] and vibraphonist Gary Burton, in which they played some beautiful jazz.  At that time Benson was eighteen, working around Pittsburgh, his hometown, with a rock ‘n’ roll band.  And he was intelligent enough to realize that there was a lot of music he hadn’t heard yet.”

Produced by (the legendary talent scout) John Hammond, the album was released in the US, UK, Canada, Europe, Japan — and Saudi Arabia, interestingly.

Musical Line-Up

Lonnie Smith:  organ

Ron Cuber:  baritone sax

Jimmy Lovelace:  drums

Ray Lucas:  *drums (on the “rock ‘n’ roll” tracks)