Ten-time GRAMMY winning guitarist George Benson is set to release his latest collection of works, Weekend in London, and as the name implies it is a callback of sorts to Benson’s groundbreaking 1978 release, Weekend In LA.
In advance of the album, Benson is debuting the latest version of “Turn Your Love Around” on American Songwriter. The song comes straight at you with the original drop from the 1981 release but with a tweaked arrangement that is both familiar and fulfilling.
Benson said that there was an immediate impact made for him, even 40 years ago, and that it continues to shine through no matter the time that we face.
“This was an unusual song, given what I was recording at the time, that was brought to me by Steve Lukather, guitarist from the group Toto,” he said. “I instantly fell in love with the song and it shows in the spirit and attitude in the recording.”
The new, live album is a recording from his 2019 performance at London’s intimate 250-seat Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, and as Benson is known for, it was built on vibes in the room.
“We don’t plan the show out in advance,” Benson said. “But we know there’s things we gotta play, and if you leave too many out, you’re in for a troubled night. We know what people have come to hear. So I’ve got half the battle won.”
Through its run of show, Weekend In London nods to many of Benson’s career peaks, but for the purist jazz fans the appeal lies in his improvisation. Benson allows this album to further his reputation as the best in the business.
The curiously pleasing part to the album is that it was not overproduced or made more grand than it needed to be. It transported a veteran performer back in time, giving Benson the soundscape of playing the street corners, drug stores, and jazz joints of his native Pittsburgh but with a savvy that youth cannot carry.
Benson grew up Pittsburgh’s Hill District, a culturally robust neighborhood that’s often under appreciated in terms of its significance to black history, spawning artists like Lena Horne, Billy Eckstein, Billy Strayhorn, Art Blakey, Erroll Garner, Earl “Fatha” Hines. While this may have been a Weekend in London, it could have just as easily been taken straight from Wylie Avenue and Fullerton Street.
Dig what you hear, or just always a fan of Benson? Pre-order!