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  1. #1

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    Here's a partial transcription of mine from the George Benson Hot Licks Video "The Art of Jazz Guitar". After careful examination I discovered that many of the examples in the enclosed booklet were transcribed incorrectly. Even the chyron incorrectly calls it "Example 14". It's actually the 15th example.

    Most of the examples in the video show only his left hand. This split screen example shows both hands and thus allowed me to accurately transcribe his picking. I've posted two measures:




    Actual Examples of George Benson Picking-gb-ex-16-jpg

    It's a great look at GB's approach into ascending string changing. Notice how he alternate picks everything except (most of) the ascending string changes.

    What are your thoughts? Can anyone else post their examples?
    Last edited by guitars; 10-30-2017 at 08:20 PM.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Yes, that seems to be what he's doing here. Discussion of Benson's technique can be found at length on this epic 51 page thread - not sure if you are aware of it?

    Benson Picking technique on Gibson L5 Wesmo

    Anyway, as a essentially a Gypsy Picker I use similar picking directions although a different right hand grip.

  4. #3

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    I've heard a lot of people bash Benson's instructional video -- there isn't much in the way of explanation or guided instruction, and I think Benson himself isn't particularly comfortable in the "teacher" role.

    But if you break it down and transcribe what he's doing, as you've done, there's some real good stuff buried in there.

    As hard as it is to believe, that video provided me with a key piece to the puzzle when conceptualizing how to approach changes on guitar (not the whole thing, but a piece).

  5. #4

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    I am aware of that huge thread. My goal was to start one that’s based on actual examples of GB playing and discuss that. Let’s see how it goes.

  6. #5

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    My opinion is that the video itself is well worth the price and it contains some great insight into GB’s approach into substitutions and to his technique. The transcription booklet, which is included, must have been done by listening to the audio and not by watching the video as the tab portion is way off base.

    i particularly like the way he uses 7b9 arpeggios and how he resolves them. Also, I was amazed at how often he plays bII7 to I.

  7. #6

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    have you spent any time listening to and/or transcribing Adam Rogers? He's got an interesting technique featuring a wrist rotation a little bit towards the benson picking angle but he appears to float the right hand. He also uses economy picking all over the place. He's got 4 instructional videos out and I've spent a lot of time slowing down his improvisations on them to see what he's doing with the left and right hand.

    He doesn't sound anything like benson but uses some similar techniques which are worth investigating.

  8. #7

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    Thanks. I'm familiar with him but not his videos. Can you recommend a video that shows both hands?

  9. #8

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    Here's an actual example (and an old chestnut of a tune):
    Last edited by destinytot; 10-30-2017 at 05:32 PM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by guitars
    Thanks. I'm familiar with him but not his videos. Can you recommend a video that shows both hands?
    Here you go and oops, he's clearly touching down, not floating.



    I picked up a couple of his masterclass videos. Very inexpensive and the improv/playing on them is worth the money alone.

  11. #10

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    Thank you all for the videos.

    Feel free to post some transcriptions with matching video so the we can discuss his ACTUAL note selectlon, left hand fingering and picking direction. I'm attempting to engage in a discussion of that as opposed to how he holds his pick.

    My believe that it doesn't really matter how one holds the pick. There are monster players holding the pick in every manner. To me the interesting aspect of his sound is how he effortlessly flows thru changes, his use of substitutions and how he actually plays the stuff most of us play, but in his own way. I think that's where the magic is.

    Any thoughts on the transcription?

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by guitars
    Thank you all for the videos.

    Feel free to post some transcriptions with matching video so the we can discuss his ACTUAL note selectlon, left hand fingering and picking direction. I'm attempting to engage in a discussion of that as opposed to how he holds his pick.

    My believe that it doesn't really matter how one holds the pick. There are monster players holding the pick in every manner. To me the interesting aspect of his sound is how he effortlessly flows thru changes, his use of substitutions and how he actually plays the stuff most of us play, but in his own way. I think that's where the magic is.

    Any thoughts on the transcription?
    Taking all emotion out of it (..!), I find it helpful to reduce those sounds to 'dark and light/home and away'. (Zooming in further raises the spectre of technique.)

    Personally, I believe (a) that transcription (by ear) is either easy or it isn't, (b) that analysis - exegesis? - is unnecessary because you either hear it or you don't, and (c) if you don't hear it, it's not for you (at least, not yet).

    There's no harm in the act of showing/sharing (or talking about) per se - until, that is, other individuals shrink from the important homework they ought properly to be doing for themselves.

  13. #12

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    Suggestion re. transcription: sing it first. ('Slow down to speed up.')
    Last edited by destinytot; 10-31-2017 at 06:09 AM.

  14. #13

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    A rising tide lifts all boats...

    Re-post with 'audio example' by Benson himself, plus transcriber's commentary* - and exemplification of a process towards which each individual can either work or aspire:


    *EDIT. Not only do I find the channel content inspiring, I find the motivation refreshing (as opposed to contemptible): "This Channel is dedicated to the explanation and preservation of GOOD MUSIC!!! Please feel free to explore and share when and where necessary. Visit and view often...Comments and emails are always welcome...! THANKS FOR WATCHING!!!"


    Last edited by destinytot; 10-31-2017 at 06:47 AM. Reason: addition

  15. #14

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    The original transcribed line is GBs way of maintaining downward pickslanting for the entire line. The pick clears the strings on the upstroke so that works for 2 notes on a string. The one note per string ascending is down down necause the pick is buried in the strings on downstrokes.

    Cheers

  16. #15

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    Dan Wilson who along with rodney jones is probably the best benson picker on the planet is holding a picking workshop.

    Jazz Guitarist Dan Wilson | Product Page

  17. #16

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    Did we reach a consensus on Adam Rogers? Is he a Benson picker?

  18. #17

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    Wow, thanks for the heads up, Jack, this is an awesome opportunity. it's really amazing the level of instruction we have access to these days.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Did we reach a consensus on Adam Rogers? Is he a Benson picker?
    I don't think so. If you look at he and dan wilson, sheryl bailey and rodney jones, their angle is much more intense than Adam's and adam does much more economy picking but I think you can say adam is somewhat of a modified benson picker.

    Of course there is the school of thought predicated by benson and his disciple (and co-developer of the George Benson Guitar Method) peter farrell (who does not use benson picking but who sounds just like benson) that it's not necessary to use *that* pick angle to get the benson touch, feel and sound.

  20. #19

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    I like the look of Rogers picking, looks VERY controlled to me. Wilson Jones Bailey's looks and feels totally unnatural to me.
    J Bruno does not do the Benson thing, but is awesome. Is Pat Martino similar to A. Roger's picking?

  21. #20

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    Interesting. I can see what you’re saying about coming more from the elbow. His hand position and backward pick angle do seem classic Benson.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Durban
    I like the look of Rogers picking, looks VERY controlled to me. Wilson Jones Bailey's looks and feels totally unnatural to me.
    J Bruno does not do the Benson thing, but is awesome. Is Pat Martino similar to A. Roger's picking?
    I think Wilson, Jones and Bailey's technique and work speaks for itself. Pat Martino picks nothing like Rogers and the sound and attack are totally different.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by setemupjoe
    Interesting. I can see what you’re saying about coming more from the elbow. His hand position and backward pick angle do seem classic Benson.
    if you look at peter's position in this video where the optical illusion (low camera angle) isn't looming, you can see his wrist and backward pick angle aren't really "classic" benson. Definitely influenced by benson but not the classic thing that wilson, jones and bailey do.



    Compare that to dan wilson's pick angle and wrist in this video:


  24. #23
    Hello everyone. Actually everything that has been said here is not truth about George Benson technique. Hey Jack how are you my friend ? I never told you that i use another technique. I have been Mr. Benson's private student for more than 15 years and YES I know EVERY detail of his technique for the simple reason that he has showed me how to do it during all those years. All the guitar players mentioned here are MONSTERS and also AMAZING guys (most of them are great friends of mine). You guys pay attention on irrelevant details (the 15? or 27? angle, and bla bla bla). I pick exactly as Benson showed me how to do. Every movement that I do i know what i'm doing. If you are interested in learn it please send me email. THERE IS NO MAN ON EARTH THAT KNOWS MORE ABOUT ME THAT PETER FARRELL", "YOU WON'T FIND THAT TYPE OF INFORMATION ANYWHERE ELSE THAN WITH MY FRIEND PETER" words of Mr. George Benson (recorded in a video that has not being showed yet). Well, what can i say to this: Peter do not has the Classic Benson picking ? Really ? hahahahahaha well, if you guys are specialist in GB, who am I or even GB to desagree. Anyway take care everyone, it would be a pleasure to help you. And thanks for having me here. GOD BLESS
    Last edited by Peterfarrell1818; 08-14-2018 at 08:49 AM.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker
    Pat Martino picks nothing like Rogers and the sound and attack are totally different.
    I agree that generally their technique and sound has little in common. That said, there was some concert audio floating around a few years ago from when Adam was playing in Michael Brecker's band that struck me as very Martino-like.

  26. #25

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    hey peter good to see you here. Sorry for the misunderstanding. I was looking for my facebook messages where you indicated that it was not necessary to use the benson pick grip or angle to get the benson sound but it appears that I have deleted my older messages. Are you now advocating something different or did I totally misunderstand? I could have sworn we discussed that in great detail!

  27. #26

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    here's another clip of Dan Wilson's benson grip. Hard to go wrong with Peter or Dan's classes on this technique. We live in a wonderful age of online lesson material!


  28. #27
    Hey Jack, what I’m saying is that the angle of the pick is not as important as you guys are thinking. There are many types of hands, bigger, smaller, longer. So it s natural that the position will be quite different. But there is NO George Benson technique without the left hand technique. I told you that it was possible to sound like GB without the angled picking, yes indeed. However, the angled picking helps a lot. What I do is exactly what Benson has showed me. If you watch the Take Five live version you will understand where my technique comes from. I do not mind if you think other guitar players are better Benson pickers than myself, it is just your opinion and I respect that, and always will. However I was Benson 15 years student so when I say something about it I know what I m talking about. Well, what I can say is that playing with an angled pick does not mean picking like GB, not at all.

  29. #28

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    you've completely mis-characterized what I said.

    First of all, i never said others were "better" than you at anything. I would never say that, particularly not in public. What I said was that certain others such as wilson, jones, bailey's hand positions appear to be closer to benson's.

    But I also went out of my way to point out you nail the benson "thing" to the extent that benson selected *YOU* to co-author the benson picking method so it seems that you are cherry-picking points of contention with what I said.

    At any rate, take care brother. Guitar forums...pfffttt

    Talking about playing is about as meaningful as talking about the taste of food.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peterfarrell1818
    Hey Jack, what I’m saying is that the angle of the pick is not as important as you guys are thinking. There are many types of hands, bigger, smaller, longer. So it s natural that the position will be quite different. But there is NO George Benson technique without the left hand technique. I told you that it was possible to sound like GB without the angled picking, yes indeed. However, the angled picking helps a lot. What I do is exactly what Benson has showed me. If you watch the Take Five live version you will understand where my technique comes from. I do not mind if you think other guitar players are better Benson pickers than myself, it is just your opinion and I respect that, and always will. However I was Benson 15 years student so when I say something about it I know what I m talking about. Well, what I can say is that playing with an angled pick does not mean picking like GB, not at all.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterfarrell1818
    Hello everyone. Actually everything that has been said here is not truth about George Benson technique...
    Hey, Peter! Welcome. Happy to see you here.

  31. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Peterfarrell1818
    Anyway take care everyone, it would be a pleasure to help you. And thanks for having me here. GOD BLESS
    Hey, Peter. Are there any updates about the time line for release of the gb method (George Benson Academy)? Very interested I this. Thanks.

  32. #31

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    When he goes in to turbo note spam mode he appears to lock up that thumb/finger/pick whole area, which makes sense.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by djg
    i dig perry hughes' super relaxed approach:



    and richie hart had it down decades ago:



    it can even look like this:



    as peter has said, the variations are endless. what they have in common is: reststrokes, economy up, some angle. the picking style existed before benson. he didn't invent it in the back of mcduff's van since the "little" george benson photographs already show him holding the pick his way. it's a picking style that was passed on in the black community similar to the way gipsy picking (which we do not call django-picking) is taught through apprenticeship.
    Yeah I was wondering about David T Walker. I also wonder how far back this approach goes and when it was originally taught within the context of Black American Music. Certainly I think Benson and his achievements as a player have no doubt popularised the technique.

    BTW, there's good reason to think this technique was also in use back in the middle ages. As rest stroke ('gypsy') picking is also present in a number of techniques worldwide including Oud technique, it seems that if something is a good idea it gets invented and reinvented over and over.

    Actual Examples of George Benson Picking-lute-player-plectrum-16th-century-lautenspielerin-mit-einem-eargc6-jpg

  34. #33

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    Here's a little thought-oid

    The mention of Gypsy Picking makes me think of the fact that there is a larger class of players who employ downward pick slanting in trad-ish grips such as Tal Farlow, Joe Pass and probably Charlie Christian but who don't qualify as 'Gypsy pickers' because they like the wrist angle, biomechanics and other specifics of the approach.

    In the same way, there are players who are probably in the larger class of 'thumb-under pickers' like Adam Rogers, Sebastian Giniaux and err... me on alternate Tuesdays - who have not been students of Peter, Rodney Jones or GB himself etc but like the sound and feel of the thumb under approach.

    OTOH there seems to be differences in the exact application of Benson picking within those players too.

    I find with a thumb under high angle of attack approach, the limitations of downward pick slanting don't really seem to apply so much. Which is funny given how GB's picking directions seems to resemble those of trad Gypsy style picking. In contrast Adam Rogers is a two way economy picker.

    I also recall in Tuck Andress's seminal article his saying that Benson varied the positioning of the picking hand over the years - IIRC is that something anyone has looked into?

    It's a shame I find hybrid picking and muting so awkward with a thumb under grip.

  35. #34

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    I'm not so sure this approach has been "taught". Dan grew up playing in the black church. When he and I used to jam 15 years ago, I asked him about benson picking and i'm pretty sure he wasn't even aware of it then. It's just how he learned to play. I don't think he studied benson and other players and decided that was the way he should pick...

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Yeah I was wondering about David T Walker. I also wonder how far back this approach goes and when it was originally taught within the context of Black American Music. Certainly I think Benson and his achievements as a player have no doubt popularised the technique.

    BTW, there's good reason to think this technique was also in use back in the middle ages. As rest stroke ('gypsy') picking is also present in a number of techniques worldwide including Oud technique, it seems that if something is a good idea it gets invented and reinvented over and over.

    Actual Examples of George Benson Picking-lute-player-plectrum-16th-century-lautenspielerin-mit-einem-eargc6-jpg

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker
    I'm not so sure this approach has been "taught". Dan grew up playing in the black church. When he and I used to jam 15 years ago, I asked him about benson picking and i'm pretty sure he wasn't even aware of it then. It's just how he learned to play. I don't think he studied benson and other players and decided that was the way he should pick...
    Not always perhaps. Tbh I think some people follow their intuition and find an approach that works and feels good.

    But you know that Sheryl and Miles Okazaki are out of Rodney Jones dojo. I think Miles hung with George himself a bit too.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    When he goes in to turbo note spam mode he appears to lock up that thumb/finger/pick whole area, which makes sense.
    Dan also uses his left hand pinky quite extensively. When I took lessons with Rodney Jones, he pointed out that a lot of players don't use their pinky much (Wes, Peter Bernstein, etc). The thing that I liked about Rodney in my few lessons with him is that he would often point things out and make observations, but did it in a way that didn't feel prescriptive. Like, I don't think he would have said that you can't do this or that and sound good, but more, hey, look at all the stuff you can do with essentially three fingers!

  38. #37

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    As one of Peter's student I can testify that he really knows what he is talking about and he clearly demonstrates this during his lessons. He also explained to students that some differences may occur because size of the hands. As Peter stated here, LEFT hand fingerings are equally important.
    But, what is most important is that this is just a tool for expressing ideas, musical thoughts. And this is where Peter's teachings really shine. He shows the GEORGE'S METHOD, not just picking. Lessons are really well structured and fun. Peter takes care of each student and holds no secret about anything.
    He plays like magician.

    Mile

    Sent from my SM-C7000 using Tapatalk

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald
    Dan also uses his left hand pinky quite extensively. When I took lessons with Rodney Jones, he pointed out that a lot of players don't use their pinky much (Wes, Peter Bernstein, etc). The thing that I liked about Rodney in my few lessons with him is that he would often point things out and make observations, but did it in a way that didn't feel prescriptive. Like, I don't think he would have said that you can't do this or that and sound good, but more, hey, look at all the stuff you can do with essentially three fingers!
    Miles is into the three finger thing, Sheryl Bailey has a pretty ‘legit’ left hand.

  40. #39

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    Here's another clip of dan just gettin' it!


  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    ... turbo note spam mode ...
    Ha! Liked the phrase, "turbo note spam mode."

  42. #41

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    Miles Okazaki.

    From: Miles Okazaki: Cleaning the Mirror

    "Jones ended up acting as a major influence on Okazaki from a technical standpoint. "He saw that a lot to work on," Okazaki continues. "I had some good facility on the guitar at that time, but my technique was pretty poor in terms of knowing the history of the instrument. I had just tried to pick up stuff from other instruments. I had just tried to pick up stuff from other instruments. I had to reinvent my technique, which took about two years of sounding really bad, where I had to change my whole posture, position, everything."






  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-ster
    Ha! Liked the phrase, "turbo note spam mode."
    I laughed when I read Christian's description too...and I am extremely guilty of this also.. actually spent tens of thousands of hours to learn to add rhythmic spam to my playing.[ but Spam is Spam lol]..good to have a sense of humor about it.

    A great funny phrase ...classic.

    Not taking anything away from the very talented Dan Wilson -
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 10-18-2018 at 08:10 PM.

  44. #43

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    Here's a clip showing Sebastien Giniaux's technique. It is amazing how fast and clean he can play with this "unorthodox" technique.


  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by geese_com
    Here's a clip showing Sebastien Giniaux's technique. It is amazing how fast and clean he can play with this "unorthodox" technique.

    But is it Benson picking*?

    * I don't really care

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by jzucker
    Here's another clip of dan just gettin' it!

    Correction...Dan Wilson is KILLIN' it!! Wow, what a player!

  47. #46

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    More medievals having a cheeky benson pick

    Actual Examples of George Benson Picking-baldosa-08-jpg

    Actual Examples of George Benson Picking-vihuela_de_arco_y_vihuela_de_péñola_en_las_cantigas-jpg

    In seriousness, I think it's well known that Gypsy rest-stroke picking is used in a number of cultures around the world, probably discovered independently, but it also seems true of Benson picking, and I wonder if there are any other cultures that use it?

    If it's a good idea, people end up using it....
    Attached Images Attached Images Actual Examples of George Benson Picking-vihuela_bpintoricchio_1493-jpg 

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by geese_com
    Here's a clip showing Sebastien Giniaux's technique. It is amazing how fast and clean he can play with this "unorthodox" technique.
    Sounds like Bluegrass or Western Swing Music....about as far from Benson as you can get in many ways....demonstrates that feel and time feel don't come from your pick technique.
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 08-27-2018 at 08:39 PM.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robertkoa
    Sounds like Bluegrass or Western Swing Music....about as far from Benson as you can get in many ways....demonstrates that feel and time feel don't come from your pick technique.
    It’s music from the Balkans played by a Frenchman.

    To be honest, Tres Cubano players tend not to sound too much like Django.

    I’m presuming the fellas in the medieval manuscripts weren’t playing This Masquerade.

  50. #49

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    I love this Rhythm Section .




    And Guitar George DOES make it cry and sing with some nice vibrato here.

    I have to say this in a somewhat 'politically correct' way ..Christian and others have mentioned the' African Diaspora' in Jazz...and I think Benson is the ultimate embodiment of that on Jazz Guitar...he is very eloquent but extremely raw and funky
    more than any Jazz Guitarist I have ever heard and more than most of if not not all the R&B Guitarists I have ever heard..

    A truly inspirational Player as well as a seriously bad ass Guitarist.. most Jazz Guitarists seem very restrained compared to GB ....despite his skills he is raw and emotional like a great Blues or R&B Player [ only better usually ]he considers himself an 'upstart' and he really sounds like one .
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 08-28-2018 at 06:12 PM.

  51. #50

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    Look how Benson was holding his pick in 1963!

    Actual Examples of George Benson Picking-40210014_10156701017872915_4557439636586102784_n-jpg