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November 2006

George Benson
George Benson: Live at Montreux 1986

Twenty years ago and 10 years after his Breezin’ CD crossed over to make him a household name, George Benson took advantage of a world-class setting to once again prove to audiences that he was an accomplished singer and scatter as well as guitarist. Recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival, this DVD documents Benson’s amazing performance in front of an appreciative Swiss crowd.

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Warner Brothers

George Benson

The sound is superb, and the energy displayed by the then-43-year-old Benson is contagious. The film showcases Benson at the end of his most popular era, for it was after Montreux that Benson turned his energies to traditional jazz and big-band music for a spell. So Benson’s pop-jazz fans will obviously enjoy seeing and hearing “On Broadway,” “Affirmation,” “20/20,” “Turn Your Love Around” and a swinging “Beyond the Sea” that Bobby Darin would have dug. Unfortunately, Benson didn’t include the instrumental that got the ball rolling for him, career-wise: “Breezin’.”

The DVD has no special features, but there’s a mildly informative mini-essay by Graham Betts. You can find that stuff pretty easily online, anyway. More of a disappointment is no mention of the players surrounding Benson during this remarkable show. That’s unforgivable.

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