George Benson: The Gentle Rain


The Gentle Rain


George Benson (guitar)


Beyond the Blue Horizon (Mosaic Contemporary 5010)

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George Benson (guitar), Ron Carter (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums),

Clarence Palmer (organ), Michael Cameron (percussion), Albert Nicholson, (percussion)


Composed by Luiz Bonfá


Recorded: New York, February 1971


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

From my perspective, this tune represents a period of exploitation, experimentation and growth for George Benson during his days at CTI Records (1971-1976). This jazz-bossa standard is treated with more rhythmic freedom and at times suggests more urban, New York-style Latin rhythms and double-time backbeat, thanks to Jack DeJohnette’s polyrhythms. Benson uses this active backdrop as a springboard for his own rhythmically aggressive playing on the solo vamp. I also like how he employs Ron Carter on cello to create sound-painted melodies and smears as a supplement to the organ-drums-percussion rhythm section. George even looks to the cello for melodic interaction as he begins his solo.

These abstractions create a mood that’s a perfect foil for what could possibly be go-nowhere II-chord-to-V-chord blowing. George uses his fierce technique to build this solo to a frenzy, while organically using his favorite elements—the blues, a probing harmonic awareness to inform his single-line ideas, block chords, a keen melodic and rhythmic sense, and controlled abandon. He takes chances here that are only available to those who know and trust that elusive musical spirit. Whether it’s by leaps, steps or spins, lulls, cries or shouts, his ideas are always delivered with grace and are musically sound and emotionally moving.

Reviewer: Bobby Broom

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