George Benson has established himself in multiple music genres but is best known for his contemporary popular music. The iconic singer/guitarist/composer has created more than 30 recordings as a leader, won 10 Grammy Awards and is a NEA Jazz Master. He recently took his career to another level when after touring four years and developing “An Unforgettable Tribute to Nat King Cole,” Benson made his most inspired recording which he titled Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole.
This evening’s concert featured the master guitarist/vocalist with a coterie of great musicians and a 40-member orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl. Flags were flown at half-staff in honor of the victims of September 11, 2001 and Benson dedicated his 75-minute concert to the late, great, George Duke who passed away last month.
Benson’s heartfelt renditions of some of Nat King Cole’s favorite songs kept the audience thoroughly engaged. One of tonight’s most beautiful moments occurred when Benson sang “Nature Boy” with the full orchestra. His duet with Janey Clewer on “When I Fall In Love” was just as memorable and garnered the duo a very appreciative applause. Several other favorites including “Unforgettable,” “Just One of Those Things,” “Smile,” “Mona Lisa,” and “I Love You For Sentimental Reasons” were excellent vehicles for Benson’s resonant voice. It was quite apparent that Benson felt every lyric he sang tonight. Since many of the songs in Cole’s repertoire are firmly established emotional works, it was imperative that he relate the emotion inherent in their backstories. He accomplished that with his brilliant, signature Benson vocal/guitar, scat solos and creative expressions.
George Benson closed out the evening with his upbeat pop jazz version of “Nature Boy,” which was followed by “Give Me The Night” and “On Broadway.” A true success for all involved and a definite testament to George Benson's greatness as an artist.
Dianne Reeves was stunning with her tight nonet. She sang several songs from her upcoming album on Concord including “32 Flavors.” Her 50-minute set also included special guest Teri Lynn Carrington as a backing vocalist! The entire set was great but two really special highlights included her rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” and Bob Marley’s “Waiting In Vain” both of which appear on the upcoming CD, her first in five years. Ms. Reeves’ breathtaking virtuosity and improvisational prowess were in full flight tonight as she blessed the audience with her exemplary presence, style and grace. The award-winning vocalist is a natural wonder and tonight, she was the recipient of the adoration she rightfully deserves.
For more information about upcoming shows at The Hollywood Bowl, please visit their website.