We were very excited when Marcus Miller agreed to visit George Benson in his Arizona home and interview him for the cover story of the July/August issue of JazzTimes. We knew that the two musicians shared plenty of history and sensibility as contemporary jazz players with both chops and commercial success. We expected a freewheeling and in-depth conversation. They delivered all that and more. We should have also expected that, like two old friends getting together after being apart for a few years, Miller and Benson would go long. Really long. Like 15,000 words long. The thing is, it was all great: incredible detail from George about his early life as a musician, his creative process, his favorite vocalists, and so much more.
Unfortunately, it would have taken dozens of pages in the issue to include the entire interview. Not wanting to leave any good material on the cutting room floor, we decided to break the interview up into two parts, the first in print and the second here online. Enjoy this fascinating look at the life and music of one of the most influential guitarists in modern jazz. —Lee Mergner