George Benson Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto ON June 26

George Benson Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto ON June 26
Few veteran artists have had as versatile a career as George Benson. His ten Grammy wins have been for both vocal and instrumental performances, in genres ranging from R&B to jazz to pop, and this TJF set was similarly varied. His melodic and smooth style as both a singer and guitarist were showcased equally here, though to these ears it's his distinctive and fluent guitar work that most impresses. Some scat singing added a jazz component, but much of the material retained a '70s pop-soul vibe. Unfortunately, the rather cheesy and tinny keyboards/synths sound of that era also remained on some selections, and it would have been nice if he recruited a real horn section. Benson mixed in selections from his latest album, Guitar Man, with the hits that the capacity (and couple-heavy) crowd had come to hear. Of the newer material, an upbeat take on "Tequila" and lyrical instrumental version of Michael Jackson ballad "My One and Only Love" were highlights, while Benson even gave new life to the overplayed "Danny Boy." An extended version of his smash hit "Give Me the Night" brought the crowd to its feet, and made for a fitting conclusion to a generally high-quality set.