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"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview" George Benson

george bensonSmitty: I am overwhelmingly ecstatic to welcome to Jazz Monthly for the first time a living legend. He has such a groove.  You know him from “Give Me the Night,” “Breezin’,” “This Masquerade,” “On Broadway,” and the list goes so far on. You have got to check out this new record.  He’s collaborated with one of the greatest artists in this business, Mr. Al Jarreau.  They have masterfully merged their talents, passion, and histories to put together an exquisite new project.  It is called Givin’ It Up.  Please welcome the rhapsodic and amazing Mr. George Benson.  George, how ya doin’, my friend?

George Benson (GB):  Real good. How you doin’ there, brother?

Smitty:  All right.  So, now, I’ve talked to Al (Jarreau) about this remarkable record and I couldn’t wait to talk with you, and I must say, and I said this to him, when I heard this record, I said “They should’ve done this long time ago.”  (Laughs.)

GB:  That is for sure.  And time flies by so fast, we didn’t realize that this project, which we knew was coming one day, it took so long because you can’t realize when you’re out here working and busy how fast time flies by.

Smitty:  Yes.

GB:  But when they finally mentioned it…. “Hey, man, how would you like to do something with Al?”  I said “Oh, man, where have you been all this time?”

Smitty:  (Laughs.)

GB:  So that’s how it came about.  It was just a matter of timing more than anything else and making the space for it.

Smitty:  Yes, and I know that everyone put a lot of love in this record because you lined up a magnificent lineup of artists to come in and contribute to this record, and it’s such a long list of extraordinary musicians.

GB:  Yeah, Jill Scott and Herbie Hancock and Patti Austin

Smitty:  Patrice Rushen

GB:  Patrice Rushen, Stanley Clarke

Smitty:  Marcus Miller

GB:  Marcus Miller, yeah.  (Laughs.) Abe Laboriel… You know, all the great ones, man.

Smitty:  Yes.  Marion Meadows, Dean Parks

GB:  Marion Meadows…he’s got a great sound, man.

Smitty:  Oh yeah.

GB:  He really did a great job on this record for us.

Smitty:  Yes, and Barry Eastmond.  What a fantastic keyboard player.

GB:  Yes.

Smitty: The opening track, very appropriate to open with “Breezin’” but, boy, what a surprise and what a beautiful track.  I mean, Al just really laid it down with the vocals and you just step right in there….you two were meant to collaborate together.

GB:  I believe so. I think that we think alike, we came from pretty much the same era, and we both have knowledge of all the three genres….pop, jazz, R&B, and some other things that people haven’t heard of yet.

Smitty:  Yes. (Laughs)

GB:  So we were able to bring some of that stuff to this record, which is phenomenal, and then we had some other surprise guests and things to make it interesting.

Smitty:  Well, I think you’re spot on there because it’s evident because you both have the hardware and the love to prove that you know what’s happening with all three genres because between the two of you, there’s over 50 million records, there’s 20 number one hits, 13 Grammys, I mean, the list goes on.  So you two have really earned your keep and delivered a new level when it comes to making great music, you really have.

GB:  Well, we had a lot of fun doing it, and I can tell you that our favorite thing is to be in front of an audience and to show them what we’ve been working on, and to create something that is only for the moment, never gonna happen exactly like that again.

Smitty:  Right.

GB:  So that’s what kind of era we come from where the artists we listened to, that’s what they did every night, so that’s in our blood.

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