A household name ever since scoring a Top 10 hit in 1976 with “This Masquerade,” George Benson is not only a popular singer but also one of the finest guitarists in jazz history. Born in Pittsburgh in 1943, Benson actually made his first records as a singer, four selections in 1954 when he was 11. At that point, Benson had already been performing in nightclubs for three years. He took up the guitar a little later and in 1960 formed a rock band. Soon, influenced by Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery, he discovered jazz, although he always had his own musical personality. In 1962 Benson started an important three-year stint with Jack McDuff’s band, playing nightly opposite saxophonist Red Holloway. Their menu of blues at various tempos, ballads, funky jazz and soulful numbers with an occasional standard became Benson’s basic repertoire when he formed his own group in 1965.
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