November 21, 2008

Bedtime Music: George Benson - Breezin'

Finishing off this week's Bedtime Music is a televised performance of George Benson playing his 1976 hit, Breezin'. (Unfortunately, the flute solo at the beginning of the song isn't on the video.) I'm not sure exactly when this video was recorded, but it has to be prior to 1983 as The Old Grey Whistle Test, a program on BBC2, changed its name to just "Whistle Test" in that year.

Interesting fact about Breezin': The song was originally written and performed by Bobby Womack in 1971, five year's before Benson's cover.

Interesting fact about George Benson: There's an interesting anecdote about how George really learned how to play the guitar; from

Benson credits the uniqueness of his approach to several days in San Francisco spent in the company of the blind pianist Freddie Gambrell, who had made a trio recording several years before with Chico Hamilton. “I was walking around the city, taking in the scenes, and quite by accident I walked into this club and heard a piano player who was very good,” Benson recalled. “I told him who I was, and he said, ‘Go get your guitar,’ which I did. He gave me a lesson in harmony. He was a guy who had a big jar on his piano for people to drop the dollars in when they made requests. He stopped doing that to show me what he was talking about. I didn’t understand anything he was saying to me. He was calling off chord changes; I didn’t understand any of them. He would say ‘C!’ I’d play a C, and he’d say, ‘No, not that C.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute. There’s more than one C?’ He began to explain. What I learned has been with me to this day.

“I think people began to notice me when I started to apply that theory and experiment, and what I learned from Freddie Gambrell separated me from the normal guitar thinking. That made me interesting to other players, who would always ask me, ‘Where you coming from, man?’”

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