George Benson Breezin'

This chestnut almost ran the brilliant career of guitarist and vocalist George Benson into the ground once the backlash of all things near-disco had run its course. Fortunately, history has been more forgiving and Warner has lovingly re-released this fine record for its 25th anniversary, with three bonus tracks and a stunning re-packaging. It did, after all, earn Benson the status of having been "the best-selling jazz album of all time" with its crossover hits "Masquerade," "Breezin'" and "Lady." Hardly a one-hit wonder, Benson had been a renowned jazz guitarist for some 16 years before he followed his passion for singing with the success of Breezin' in '76. Up until this point, his trade was in "urban contemporary" music, ranging from wailing soul jazz to slow, steamy blues. His two greatest influences, Nat "King" Cole and Wes Montgomery can be heard throughout the body of his work. Breezin' represents Benson at his most fluid, connected to his team of crack session players on a near-psychic level. The music holds up surprisingly well to time and Benson continues to dazzle with his soulful ability to swing through a ballad or redefine the state of contemporary jazz. (Rhino)