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Al Jarreau and George Benson: A Long Time Coming

George Benson and Al Jarreau

George Benson and Al Jarreau first met at a Warner Bros. Records showcase for staff in Los Angeles. The year was likely 1976, by their estimation, when the elastic-voiced Jarreau jumped from specialty division Reprise to parent Warner Bros. to record 1977’s Look to the Rainbow, while Benson-who had been recording jazz albums for more than a decade on myriad labels-finally broke big with his first Warner release, Breezin’. The label was just beginning to build its reputation as a home for contemporary jazz artists, and a show was scheduled to rally label troops from across the country. “It’s an amazing thing how fast time flies by, because that seems like not too long ago at the Ambassador Hotel,” reminisces George Benson of that first meeting with Jarreau. “It was a very sunny afternoon, we went in and had a very successful showcase and everyone came out raving about how well we did.”

Jarreau, he remembered, “was so different from what I expected. He was a pretty loose kind of guy, a let-it-all-hang-out type of person. I kind of liked that.”

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