In Concert – Carnegie Hall is George Benson's final recording for Creed Taylor's CTI label, and was mostly recorded on one night in 1975. There was some additional recording done at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in 1976, where Taylor replaced the original rhythm section of Wayne Dockery on bass and Marvin Chapell on drums with Will Lee and Steve Gadd, for whatever reason Taylor had at the time. Regardless, this is a solid "live" effort with Benson cooking on all burners, beginning with a monster version of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," which had been cut on an earlier album and had become a staple in the live set.
Recorded live at Waterfront Hall, Belfast, Ireland, in 2000, these ten tracks are pleasant re-workings of guitarist and vocalist George Benson's jazz-pop hits of the '70s. To his credit, Benson isn't just a human jukebox re-creating well-known songs and sidestepping any spontaneity that derives from a live performance. For instance, his band, which includes keyboardist Joe Sample, gets to stretch out a bit, showing off their improvisational skills on "This Masquerade," "On Broadway," and particularly on Sample's "Deeper Than You Think." Alongside his seven-member group, Benson employs the BBC Big Band and musicians from the Ulster Orchestra who provide a real lushness that enhances the music instead of utilizing the cheesy synthesizer strings that often marred some of his work in the '80s and '90s. Fans of Benson's early sessions for Columbia or A&M may not rush out to purchase this, but those who favor Breezin' will find some pleasant moments here.
George Benson may have changed labels with That's Right, but he didn't change his approach. Like his other '90s albums, That's Right is jazz-inflected quiet-storm soul. It's quietly funky and always grooving, whether he's playing a light uptempo number or a silky ballad. As always, Benson's tone is smooth and supple – it's a pleasure to hear him play, even if the material he has selected doesn't always showcase his ample skills. In fact, the unevenness in material is the very thing that keeps That's Right from being on par with Benson's early '80s contemporary soul records…
Some but not all of guitarist George Benson's 1966-1967 Columbia sides are included on this double LP originally released in 1976 – plus some unreleased songs and other tunes that he recorded under organist Lonnie Smith's name. Fitting into the soul-jazz/hard bop idiom, Benson is mostly heard in a quartet with organist Smith, baritonist Ronnie Cuber, and drummer Jimmy Lovelace, although some selections add horns (including trumpeter Blue Mitchell) and more players in the rhythm section. At this point, Benson was still heavily influenced by Wes Montgomery and Charlie Christian, but he already had his own approach. The majority of the songs are basic originals by Benson or Smith, and the emphasis is on soulful swinging. Fine music.