Two of jazz music's most well know performers team up for the first time on their Concord Music Group release 'Givin' It Up. The first single 'Morning is already at smooth jazz radio, with the single 'Let it Rain' going to Urban AC and AC. The CD also features special guests Herbie Hancock, Paul McCartney, Jill Scott, Chris Botti, Patti Austin, Marion Meadows and Marcus Miller. The duo will be on tour throughout the fall starting in Philadelphia and ending in Los Angeles.
Not trusting the drawing power of its co-billed veterans, singer-guitarist George Benson and singer-"vocal percussionist" Al Jarreau, or the eventfulness of their teaming, the producers of Givin' It Up
have hedged their commercial bets with a full array of guest stars. But none of the guest singers lifts the proceedings above a sleek professionalism--not Paul McCartney, who participates in a humdrum, album-ending jam on Sam Cooke's "Bring It on Home to Me"; not the wonderful Jill Scott, who emulates Billie Holiday on a modest treatment of "God Bless the Child"; and not old pro Patti Austin. Herbie Hancock, Chris Botti, Stanley Clarke, and Marcus Miller also turn up, agreeably but unexcitingly enough, among smooth jazzers including Marion Meadows and Patrice Rushen. The material ranges from two songs to which Jarreau adds lyrics--the 1976 Benson hit "Breezin'" and "'Long Come Tutu," based on the Miller-written title track of Miles Davis's "Tutu"--to covers of Seals and Crofts' "Summer Breeze" and the Daryl Hall-penned Paul Young hit, "Every Time You Go Away." Benson and Jarreau seem a bit hemmed-in by the crowd of name contributors. Even in smooth mode, they have done livelier work than this. --Lloyd Sachs