George Benson

Songs in the Key of My Life: The Significance of Stevie

Haylow discusses the importants of Stevie Wonder and his album “Songs in the Key of Life”.

Lou Donaldson – Alligator Bogaloo (Audio) (1967)

Some jazzmen take risks, experimenting with every album and evolving through the years of their career. Others, not so much.

Lou Donaldson is reminiscent of DJ Premier. When you hear a Premier beat, you know what you’re going to get; gritty, urban, pure hip hop, and anyone who works with him reciprocates the same emotion. Lou Donaldson is similar, where his sound is a great example of jazz with a touch of soul and funk. Analogizing Lou Donaldson to Premier serves other meanings, given that Donaldson is one if hip hop’s most sampled jazzmen.

Also similar to Premier, artists that worked with Lou Donaldson knew their place. Tonally, the alto saxophone is a loud instrument, and at times, piercing and overbearing. Donaldson’s sound is mellower than the typical alto, and in this 1967 album Alligator Bogaloo, falls into place perfectly. This album features excellent guitar work by a young, but accomplished George Benson (especially on One Cylinder), organ work by Lonnie Smith, Melvin Lastie on Coronet, and Leo Morris, who later became known as Idris Muhammad, on drums.

(Donaldson on the title track Alligator Bogaloo) “[W]e made the date and we were three minutes short. I said we don’t have no more material. And the guy said just play anything for three minutes so we can fill out the time. So I just made the riff and naturally the guys could follow it. That’s the only damn thing that sold on the record.”

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Freddie Hubbard – Sky Dive (1973) (Audio)

An album that should be in the minds of any Jazz fan, as well as any Hip Hop producer

George Benson – Bad Benson (1974)

Bad Benson is George Benson at his best. Pure guitar smoothness, mixed with an accompaniment of electronic and traditional instrumentation, this album has been revered by Hip Hop producers far and wide. Most people know Benson for his 80’s pop hits, which we all love, but in the 70’s, he was a master at jazz fusion and traditional jazz. It must also be noted that Ron Carter blessed this album with his magnificent bass, because he is Jazz’s stamp of approval! Here is the rest of the personnel and instrumentation from this album (via CD Universe):
George Benson (guitar); John Frosk, Alan Rubin, Joe Shepley (trumpet); Jim Buffington, Brooks Tillotson (French horn); Wayne Andre, Garbett Brown, Warren Covington, Paul Faulise (trombone); George Marge (flute, piccolo, English horn); Al Regni (flute, clarinet); Phil Bodner (alto flute, English horn, clarinet); Ray Beckenstein (flute); Seymour Barab, Frank Levy, Jesse Levy, Charles McCracken, Alan Shulman, Paul Tobias (cello); Margaret Ross (harp); Kenny Barron (piano); Phil Upchurch (guitar, bass, percussion); Ron Carter (bass); Steve Gadd (drums).

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Pete Rock & Jazzy Jeff inspired by George Benson

George Benson is one of Jazz’s most prolific guitarists, but when it comes to Hip Hop producers, he is considered one of the most influential.