The George Benson release I have been waiting for! Inspiration: A Tribute To Nat King Cole includes cameos from Wynton Marsalis, Tony Award Winner Idina Menzel along with former Michael Jackson back up singer and rising star from "The Voice" in Judith Hill.
There are definite similarities in the careers of both Benson and Nat King Cole. Best known as a jazz pianist first, Nat King Cole added the warmth of his baritone voice to "Straighten Up and Fly Right" while Benson first gained critical acclaim as a guitarist and broke big in the pop arena with his vocals on "This Masquerade." Benson is unquestionable the perfect artist to tackle such a daunting task as to create a tribute to Nat King Cole that not only celebrates Cole's contributions to the industry but allows Benson to leave his own indelible mark on a discography that borders on the iconic. Benson has release more than 30 recordings as a solo artist, winning ten Grammy Awards as well as garnering the prestigious honor of becoming an NEA Jazz Master. Benson grew up singing Nat King Cole as is evident by the release opening with a rare recording of Benson at the tender age of 8 singing "Mona Lisa."
Highlights here are simply too numerous to mention. A delightful riff on the Nelson Riddle arrangement of "Just One of Those Things" along with the original chart of "Nature Boy" are two solid performances that Benson simply crushes. Duets with Idina Menzel on "When I Fall In Love" and Judith Hill on "Too Young" stand strong next to a fresh arrangement of "Unforgettable" featuring the great Wynton Marsalis. The 42 piece Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra also adds an amazing texture and smooth finish to arguably George Benson's finest release to date.
Inspiration: A Tribute To Nat King Cole finds the legendary talent of Benson coming full circle as he pays fitting tribute to one of the greatest artists of any generation in the late Nat King Cole. This is the epitome of what perfection sounds like on a shiny silver disc.
Remember you never review genius, you honor it as Benson does so well on this his latest effort from the Concord Music Group.
Tracks: Mona Lisa (Little Georgie Benson); Just One Of Those Things; Unforgettable; Walkin' My Baby Back Home; When I Fall In Love; Nature Boy; Ballerina; Smile; Straighten Up And Fly Right; Too Young; I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter; Mona Lisa.