STILL HAVING SOMETHING TO SAY
OUR BEST YEARS ARE AHEAD OF US
George Benson is coming. George “Sax”Benson will be returning to the Dirty Dog this week. George has a long history of returning. That is because he is asked back. He will bring his saxophones along with a head full of experience. George is not a spring chicken, so don’t come to the Dog this week to hear some one trying to find their way. George knows the road pretty well and remains a good guide for those who play with him. As long as he is around jazz musicians, he will be surrounded by respect, Jazz musicians know that jazz is a discipline that takes a life time to master. George is a master.
Jazz musicians seldom retire because it is hard to think of anything better to do. They already know all the tunes and are carrying around a few new ones in their instrument case. That is why when they are asked to come on out and play with their pals, they do,
Jazz musicians tend to live full lives. They accumulate bits and pieces of life and with time weave them into some truths that we can hear in their music, if we listen. There is also a freedom of expression that emerges as the need to prove anything to anyone fades. Getting older has its advantages.
I must issue a warning that jazz musicians especially sax players are women magnets. Tia Fuller who is coming to the Dirty Dog in May is sufficiently magnetically charged to have the same effect on me. Through the years my wife would point out to me where George was playing. Somehow she would always have the time to see George. She was gaga for George who energized us when after violently ripping on his sax he would use his incredibly friendly smile to show us his gentle side. Devastating!
LEGIONARY DETROIT JAZZMAN GEORGE “SAX” BENSON’S SMILE
GEORGE BENSON AND HIS INSPIRING LIFE
A product of the Detroit Public Schools, George has charted his own destiny. He started playing sax about 66 years ago and will be adding to his understanding of the music this week at the Dog. He has lived his life following his own map. This may explain his ready smile.
He formed his first band as a teenager with pals Barry Harris, Tommy Flanagan and Paul Chambers. George once explained to me that with clubs and dance halls everywhere and later TV was using live bands for daytime shows, he had an opportunity to play every day and often more than one gig in a day. Playing gigs in those days was hard work and performing almost every night was required to squeak out a living. In order to stay in Detroit and raise a family George took up a job with the US Postal System which allowed him to pursue his music most evenings and weekends..He was a well known musician and a great employee and was given enough time off to tour and record. Along the way he was recognized and respected by musicians throughout our country. He has played alongside Dinah Washington, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Lionel Hampton, a slew of Motown’s greats and most of the great young players who appreciated his staying around home. George has written a book way over my head Jazz Etudes Over Classic Jazz Changes. I haven’t read this book but I know that he is well known as a teacher of Jazz improvisation and theory.
HIS STORY CONTINUES AT THE DIRTY DOG
This week George will probably say something he has never said before with his alto saxophone. He will also ask his band to stretch and follow him on his new paths. Come on out and see where he is going now.
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