Customer Reviews

89
4.3 out of 5 stars
Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole
Format: Audio CDChange
Price:$10.00 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Several weeks ago while perusing Amazon's "Upcoming CD Releases" I learned of an exciting new album from the ten-time Grammy Award-winning artist George Benson. Although I am not much of a jazz buff I have always enjoyed Benson's work. It seems that George has spent the last four years painstakingly developing a tribute to the legendary Nat King Cole. I have just sampled this disc a couple of times and I must tell you that the results were well worth the wait. "Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole" can best be described as 47 minutes of recorded bliss. The old master is clearly on top of his game as he belts out a dozen of the most memorable tunes from the Nat King Cole catalog. If you are anything like me you will come away clamoring for more.

The disc opens with a cute 0:57 snippet of 8 year old Lil' Georgie Benson performing "Mona Lisa". I am sure that Ol' George would be the first to admit that there was no indication here that he would go on to become such an accomplished vocalist! Track 2 gets down to business and finds Benson offering up a swinging rendition of "Just One of Those Things" which includes a bit of scat singing. Fantastic stuff! Now if you love the music of Nat King Cole as much as I do then you will be happy to learn that some of his all-time biggest hits are included on "Inspiration". You are sure to enjoy George's remarkable renditions of such favorites as "Walking My Baby Back Home", "Route 66" and "Ballerina". There are also a number of interesting duets featuring Judith Hill ("Too Young"), Wynton Marselis ("Unforgettable") and the German trumpet sensation Till Bronner ("Smile"). Meanwhile, George pays homage to the King Cole Trio with a swingin' rendition of "Straighten Up and Fly Right" that sounds every bit as good as the original! The disc closes with George's grown-up version of "Mona Lisa". He has never sounded better!

Since Nat King Cole made so much fabulous music "Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole" is bound to leave you feeling shortchanged and longing for more. Forty seven minutes is just not enough. I purchased my copy of "Inspiration" at a leading big box retailer that included a couple of terrific "bonus tracks" exclusive to that store. You might want to check it out. Now given the superb quality of this recording I am quite confident that "Inspiration" will be a rousing success and that a second volume will ultimately be issued. Meanwhile, I would like to commend all of the talented young musicians from the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra who accompanied George Benson on this album. Great work! It is quite apparent to me that this was a labor of love for everyone involved. A well-conceived project beautifully executed! Very highly recommended!
33 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2013
Format: Audio CD
George Benson has been at it for only 5 decades - you'd think after all this time, he might run out of steam. The incredible thing about his new tribute album to Nat King Cole is that just the opposite has happened. The singing and guitar work is just as strong as the heyday of his career. I'm just baffled that he hasn't fallen off after all these years. Throw in some great cameos by Wynton Marsalis, Idina Menzel and Michael McDonald (+ more) and you have a classic album in the making.

Whether or not you're familiar with Nat's repertoire (I mean, who isn't at this point?) this album is enjoyable from start to finish and makes a great addition to any record collection. Highly recommended!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
George Benson is a legend, period. To provide perspective to his legendary musical status, Benson never has to release another album to affirm his place within music history. That said, thankfully Benson blesses his devoted fans with yet another album, Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole. At the ripe 'young' age of 70, Benson flexes his vocal pipes with the swagger of a much younger man. Covering the staples of his musical idol, the late, great Nat King Cole, Benson easily does his idol justice. Never missing, Inspiration - A Tribute to Nat King Cole, is truly an 'inspiration' to not only Nat King Cole/George Benson fans, but fans of jazz, traditional pop, and all styles of music.

There is no need to analyze every number, but there are some noteworthy moments worth mentioning. Benson's swagger is lofty on "Just One of Those Things", where he scats incredibly agilely. He matches the same swagger on "Walkin' My Baby Back Home", a mid-tempo, grooving cut that'll easily incite the tapping of the foot. Later, "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter" gives off a similar aura. There there's those signature Nat King Cole cuts like "Unforgettable" (featuring Wynton Marsalis) or "Route 66", which both get 'grade A' interpretation from Benson. Vocal chemistry is superb on "When I Fall In Love", in which Idina Menzel blends capably with the vet. "Mona Lisa" both opens and closes the album. The first take is 'Lil George Benson' as an 8-year old accompanying his vocals with ukelele playing, from 1951. The closer is one of the more popular standards, and Benson makes it as magical in 2013 as it was back when.

Ultimately, Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole is as much a testament to Nat King Cole's legendary musical presence as it is to George Benson. One of jazz's greatest guitarist as well as one of the most flexible musicians referencing his pop and R&B endeavors, Benson enhances his lot on this 4-star effort. Highly recommended, particularly to jazz and easy-listening lovers.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Nice arrangements. The guest vocals were amazing. Close your eyes and he sounds so much like Nat , it's amazing
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2013
Format: Audio CD
There couldn't be a more appropriate title for the new George Benson project than Inspiration. As a tribute to the great Nat King Cole, George wears his inspiration & affection for Nat King Cole on his sleeve, in his voice, and even in the artwork. It's from the heart...it's from the soul...and George Benson has never sounded better in his career.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This is a beautiful, lush tribute to a legend...by a legend. I am just delighted that Benson has returned to the studio to make more music for us. My only complaint would be that Benson seems to be channeling Nat King Cole when I would have preferred hearing his own stellar voice singing these classic tune.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I have to say that I like this effort by the great GB.
This musical effort shows his amazing versatility as an artist!
The only problem that I have is that so many people have recorded these songs by Nat Cole that I have to put this particular cd in the good but not great range of the GB cannon! While listening to this session on my kindle fire (which by the way sounds great) I kept thinking about "Tenderly" which GB recorded some years ago and is in my opinion one of his best jazz efforts.
Just listen to Tenderly if you own it. You'll see what I mean.
I wish that GB's tribute to Nat Cole would have been a two cd offering.
It would have been great to hear Benson swing some instrumental tunes that Nat recorded with his trio but in a more modern tense! Overall, I am glad that I have this one.
I just think that GB could have developed this a bit more akin to the Tenderly session he recorded for Warner.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2013
Format: Audio CD
Legendary maestro jazz guitarist/singer song-writer George Benson plays classical music in this new CD release titled 'Inspiration: A Tribute To Nat King Cole'. After a successful 4 year touring (paying tribute to Nat King Cole), George Benson finaly has released his interpretation of timeless classics studio album from Nat King Cole. He has Nelson Riddle's orchestral/classical arrangements and uses the services of a 42-piece orchestra to achieve a beautiful 'big band sound'. Featured artists include legendary trumpeter Wynton Marsalis in the track "Unforgettable", singer Idina Menzel in the beautiful duet "When I Fall In Love", Till Bronner in the slow-tempo "Smile" & Judith Hill on "Too Young". Lil' Georgie Benson is featured in the opening "Mona Lisa" (just for fun I would guess).

Stand-outs/gems/my favourites are "When I Fall In Love" & the jazzy melodical "Route 66". Not far off are "Just One Of Those Things" (great cabaret singing), "Walkin' My Baby Back Home", "Ballerina", "Smile", "Too Young" & "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter". Just okay tracks are "Unforgettable", "Nature Boy", "Straighten Up And Fly Right" & "Mona Lisa" (by George Benson himself this time on the closing track).

On overall, George Benson surprises me in this new CD 'Inspiration: A Tribute To Nat King Cole' with a well executed classic/big band interpretation of great classics from the late classical singer song-writer Nat King Cole. There are however some highs and lows, but overall well presented. A recommended CD listening.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
George Benson has created a real 'inspirational' CD here. His playing is always top notch, but what sets this disc apart is the treatment he gives to these classic tunes. George's singing is amazing, and his contributors are equally impressive. He has make a disc for every lover of Nat's music. There are not a lot of tracks where you just hear his playing, but when you do it's instantly recognizable as his masterful style. I have enjoyed George's guitar for many years, and yet this disc was a surprise. I wasn't aware that he had a voice as good as he does.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
"It's been an honor to pay tribute to one of my greatest musical influences. As producers, the expertise of both John Burk and Randy Waldman were maximized in these recordings. And the engineering genius of Al Schmitt along with Seth Presant helped to make this project amongst my best musical efforts." ~ George Benson ~

Honoring the greatness of Nat King Cole via a tribute album was one of George Benson's dreams and he was so grateful to those involved in this project in helping him fulfill such a dream.

I can predict another Grammy-winning-album for the ten-time Grammy-winning-guitarist/singer. Why?

Firstly, this project is a loving and heartfelt tribute to Nat King Cole who was one of George Benson's greatest musical inspirations and influences. His admiration to the artistry of Nat King Cole stemmed at an early age of eight as evidenced on track one where you could hear the young Georgie singing "Mona Lisa" and accompanying himself on the ukelele. If you pay close attention to his singing, Nat King Cole's influence is very discernable on young Georgie's vocal styling. There's nothing like honoring a musical legend who was one of the very best singers in the world and George Benson's own interpretations on the entire album are superlative and justifiable to the everlasting music of Nat King Cole.

Secondly, the material is well-chosen from his impressive body of work. These are the very same songs that were mostly identified with Nat King Cole who recorded the definitive version of each song, popularized them, stamped his signature, and made these songs his very own. With George Benson's fresh renditions, each track becomes more memorable and unforgettable.

Thirdly, Nelson Riddle's brilliant arrangements were used in six tracks: "Just One Of Those Things," "Nature Boy," "Ballerina," "Too Young," "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter" and "Mona Lisa."

Another very good reason to be ecstatic about this lovely album is Randy Waldman's superb arrangements most especially my top favorite from this set, "Unforgettable," which highlights the stunning trumpet solo of one of the finest musicians, multi-Grammy-awardee Wynton Marsalis. George Benson's rendition is simply superb. It is a wow-moment for me. I froze it to this track and listened for what seemed like forever. Although I have loved Nat King Cole's ultimate and definitive interpretation for the longest time, this is my new favorite version and Randy Waldman is my new favorite arranger. I have included him in my book of Who's Who in jazz as one of the greatest arrangers of our time. The Grammy-award-winning-arranger is also the pianist for the entire album and you could hear his background vocals on "Straighten Up And Fly Right." His chart arrangements on the remaining tracks not arranged by Nelson Riddle are all remarkably beautiful including two bonus tracks, "That Sunday, That Summer" and "Ramblin' Rose." I can hear some Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Claus Ogerman influences on his arrangements.

One more momentous reason to love this album is the presence of some of the finest and time-tested musicians such as Chuck Berghofer (bass), Gregg Field (drums), Tim May (guitar), Michael O'Neill (baritone guitar/banjo), Michael Fisher and Sheila E. (percussion), Janey Clewer, Alvin Chea, Don Chelton, Chris Papasthepanou (background vocals), guest singers Idina Menzel ("When I Fall In Love"), Till Bronner ("Smile"), Judith Hill ("Too Young") and the 42-piece Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra.

Finally, this recording is summed up as an embarassment of riches in terms of overflow of musical treasures, wealth of musicianship, excellent material, impeccable interpretations with exquisite arrangements and flawless engineering. It is truly one of his "best musical efforts." Each track is a memorable musical moment. The disc, in its entirety, has too much of a good thing...and that makes it wonderful! Needless to say, this is a precious gem of an album.

"Too much of a good thing is wonderful." ~ Mae West ~
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed

The Greatest Hits of All
The Greatest Hits of All by George Benson (Audio CD - 2003)

The Best of George Benson
The Best of George Benson by George Benson (Audio CD - 1995)
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.