The first of George Benson’s CTI recordings was Beyond the Blue Horizon. It was recently remastered and reissued as part of the CTIMasterworks series that commemorates the 40th Anniversary of Creed Taylor’s label. This release is a straight-ahead date with a band that included organist Clarence Palmer, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Jack DeJohnette with percussionists Michael Cameron and Albert Nicholson adding some musical accents.
A pretty hot rendition of So What kicks this set off with Benson displaying why he has been so highly regarded as a guitarist mixing chords and single note runs in his imaginative playing here. Palmer acquits himself quite well on the Hammond B-3 with Carter and DeJohnette swinging as one would expect. It is followed by Luis Bonfa’s The Gentle Rain (From The Film The Gentle Rain), which opens with some spacy sounding organ before Benson states the theme displaying his precise and measured touch before launching his almost free form solo.
Benson’s All Clear is built around some bright chords and its light, bouncy feeling anticipates the title track of what would be his crossover smash album, Breezin’. His solo builds up quite some steam as Palmer adds interesting sonic effects in his comping. Ode to a Kudu is a lovely original ballad from Benson while Somewhere in the East opens with lively percussion that Benson plays some repeated riffs against before the entire ensemble joins in with Benson taking off on an extended solo.
This release concludes with alternate takes of the last three numbers, the most interesting being the alternate of Somewhere in the East which is about three minutes longer than the issued take. Like other CTI releases in this series, this was beautifully recorded and mastered. Recordings such as this one that have led to Benson enjoying a reputation of one of the great jazz guitarists of the past several decades.
This was received from a publicist.