'Weekend In London'
On November 13th, GRAMMY-winning jazz icon George Benson will release ‘Weekend In London,’ an electrifying new live album capturing his 2019 performance at London’s intimate 250-seat Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Only a handful of lucky fans were present as the lights went down that magical night in 2019. But now, Kevin Shirley’s dynamic production is your invitation to slide onto Ronnie Scott’s red velvet banquette, call for a scotch on the rocks and catch the sparks as Benson’s honeyed vocal and fluid licks drive the finest live outfit in modern jazz.
“We captured a lot of the atmosphere on ‘Weekend In London,’” says Shirley. “It was very crowded, like it always is at Ronnie Scott’s, no matter who’s there.
We were almost touching as we were playing, people all up on the bandstand. But I’m always happy to be in those surroundings. A lot of big Benson fans were there – and some of the screaming ladies. It was a fantastic night.”
'Give Me The Night' opens up the evening after a 45 year absence from playing at Ronnie Scott's. George's voice is as soulful as ever and this is such a smooth start. Midway through we are treated to some funky heavier stuff.
'Turn Your Love Around' is another hit that has a fabulous free flowing effortless musical experience that just gives you that warm happy feeling, before 'Love X Love', and during this number George shows us just what a great guitar player he is when he is given freedom to just play. Jazzy, soulful and funky.
'In Your Eyes' is a beautiful love song and is perfectly performed, and even today I'm sure that George's voice would melt a few hearts listening to this tune.
'I Hear You Knocking' brings us a funky vibe for this 1955 classic by Smiley Lewis.
'Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You' is from 1985's 20/20 album. This song a few years later went on to become a global hit for Glenn Madeiros.
'Feel Like Makin' Love' is another love song from 1983's 'In Your Eyes' album. This has a more upbeat tempo than the previous track.
'Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight' is a jazz and soul infused wonderland, before Donny Hathaway's 'The Ghetto' is up next, and is a 70's anthem through and through.
'Moody's Mood' is just a delightful tune with rises and falls a plenty, followed by 'Love Ballad', which is a jazzy upbeat number that has a real uplifting vibe.
'Never Give Up On A Good Thing' is a George Benson classic and sounds fabulous. His voice is just to die for, effortless and full of soul.
'Affirmation' is an instrumental, allowing freedom for all to express themselves before we wrap up this release with 'Cruise Control', and is a fitting way to round off this excellent collection from one of music's true legends performing in an intimate environment for the lucky few which you too can now be part of with this album.
It’s been a long and winding road from the juke-joints of Pittsburgh to the beating heart of the London jazz scene, and George Benson has been great company every step of the way. Now, on ‘Weekend In London,’ the same club that hosted that young hotshot back in the early-’70s welcomes back the older, wiser legend to burn down the house. Perhaps the compère says it best, "You don’t get stars this big in rooms this small very often, ladies and gentlemen. Please be prepared to be dazzled – Mr. George Benson…!"
This will be a classic album by a classic artist, and like a fine wine, he has matured with age. The voice is amazing, his guitar playing always exceptional and the way he holds a crowd is second to none. TFM gives 'Live In London' 5/5, a wonderful album by one of music's true gents. http://www.georgebenson.com/