Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“Jaguar”: George Benson, Most Exciting New Guitarist

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


George Benson (1966)

As it turns out, he’s not new:  this original instrumental is from 1966 album, It’s Uptown With The George Benson Quartet.  But he’s still exciting to listen to nearly fifty 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, Venezuela, Japan — and Saudi Arabia, interestingly.

Musical Lineup

George Benson:  guitar

Lonnie Smith:  organ

Ron Cuber:  baritone sax

Jimmy Lovelace:  drums

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

“Jaguar” made it as far as a DJ promo 45 but appears not to have been given official release as a single.  2001’s CD reissue of It’s Uptown includes five extra tracks including three unreleased compositions.

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