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George Benson: Absolutely Live (DVD Review)

14 Sep, 2008 By: Dan Bennett

Street 9/16/08
Eagle Rock/Kayos
$14.98 DVD
Not rated.

Smooth as silk and dripping elegant soul, George Benson was ready to roll in this 2000 concert recorded in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The smooth jazz and pop stylist wows the packed audience with some of his own hits as well as standards, rearranging such nuggets as “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “Beyond the Sea,” “The Ghetto,” “In Your Eyes” and “Breezin’.”

In this 105-minute concert, Benson shows off his legendary talent for jazz guitar with a sterling performance of “Deeper Than You Think,” and gets Irish eyes smiling with his take on the legendary “Danny Boy.”

Benson saves some of his own hits for last, delivering inspired takes on the moody ballad “This Masquerade,” the jumping “Give Me the Night” and the modern pop classic “On Broadway.”

Special guest appearances by Joe Sample, the BBC Big Band and musicians from Ireland’s Ulster Orchestra add to the festive and eclectic musical atmosphere.

Extras include a behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the live special, in which one of his studio musicians likens Benson to the “Michael Jordan of jazz guitar.”

Benson reveals that he still practices guitar every day, not just because he needs to stay sharp, but also because he simply loves to play. He talks at length about how his love for music comes from a family background in Pittsburgh, where music appreciation was commonplace.

Benson, who played for a time with Miles Davis, says he still finds himself fully in the moment when performing, and that each song conjures images of his own life experiences.

Other extras include a photo gallery, biography and discography to help viewers follow Benson’s illustrious and ever-diverse career.

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