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  • WDCH
  • Feb. 15, 2008
  • Special Guest Patti Austin Joins Benson

    FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2008, at 8 PM

    Concert Sponsored by Acura - All Acura Vehicles Park Free for the Evening. KCET is the Media sponsor for the Evening

    Celebrated jazz guitarist/vocalist George Benson celebrates the swing and charm of legendary entertainer Nat King Cole in “A Tribute to Nat King Cole” for his debut performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Friday, February 15, at 8 p.m. Benson, a 10-time Grammy winner, offers a unique concert inspired by Cole’s improvisation, transporting listeners to a time of unforgettable Cole classics as well as delivering an acoustic night of Benson’s own chart-topping hits. Joining Benson as special guest is famed vocalist Patti Austin, whom Charlie Rose touted as “the most underappreciated voice in music today.”

    George Benson’s illustrious 30-year career spans the genres of pop, R&B and jazz, for which he has garnered both Grammy awards and Billboard chart success. His album, Breezin', the first jazz record in history to attain platinum sales, brought the instrumental title track to jazz radio. In 2007, he was awarded two Grammys for the Givin’ It Up album he co-recorded with Al Jarreau.

    Much like Benson’s career, Nat King Cole’s developed from jazz roots into pop success and both entertainers have made strong footprints in music, film and television. Cole was also well versed in a variety of musical styles from the swing of jazz piano (influenced by Earl “Fatha” Hines) to the classical repertoire of Bach and Rachmaninoff. Benson has long been known to do spot-on impersonations of many jazz greats including Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery as well as Nat King Cole. February 15th marks the anniversary of Cole’s death and the concert is Benson’s way of honoring his legacy.

    GEORGE BENSON has always had the duel personae of expert improviser and vibrant entertainer. Few might have predicted his striking level of stardom some 40 years ago when Benson was a fledgling guitarist working the corner pubs of his native Pittsburgh. In the early 1960s, Benson apprenticed with organist Brother Jack McDuff, finding his gritty swing a fertile ground for the sly, confident and adventurous guitar lines, which earned Benson an early rep as a master. It was Wes Montgomery, one of jazz's most creative players, who came across Benson early on. Montgomery had called one of his best records Boss Guitar. Benson had both the conviction and chops to nip at his hero's heels; his 1964 debut was released as The New Boss Guitar and it lived up to its moniker. Benson's tone was juicy, and his blues solos sparkled with a carefully honed logic. A jaunty funk and swing aesthetic prevailed. By the time legendary talent scout John Hammond signed Benson to Columbia, the guitarist's name was bubbling throughout the industry. His work for the label proved Hammond's hunch to be on-target. In the late 1960s he sat in on heady Miles Davis sessions, and also put a personal spin on the tunes from the Beatles' Abbey Road. Hooking up with the CTI label in 1970, he was united with many of jazz's finest instrumentalists, including Stanley Turrentine, Ron Carter, and Freddie Hubbard. When Benson teamed with Tommy LiPuma, the result was the album Breezin', the first jazz record to attain platinum sales. Throughout the 1980s Warner Bros. and LiPuma followed with several terrific Benson records. Individually, they blended grooves and guitar work, proving that R&B was a natural part of Benson's profile. In the mid-1990s Benson followed LiPuma to the GRP label. Together they cut the 1996 gem That's Right. Benson's latest GRP disc is Standing Together. Using elements of hip hop and Caribbean rhythms to keep his personalized R&B on the edgy side, Benson’s latest effort reinforces that his chops are sharper than ever and his studio savvy is continuing to grow.

    PATTI AUSTIN, the daughter of jazz trombonist Gordon Austin and goddaughter of musical legends Jones and Dinah Washington, was the undisputed "queen" of the 1970s New York session scene. Her voice was heard behind everyone from Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, James Brown and Joe Cocker to Bette Midler, Roberta Flack, Luther Vandross and Diana Ross. At the beginning of the 1980s, Austin earned a wider audience through her participation on a series of albums with her godfather, Jones Washington, including his best-selling Stuff Like That, his Grammy-winning classic The Dude, and his From Q With Love Vols. 1&2 via the standout track, "If This Time Is the Last Time." Her early solo career resulted in the chart-topping, Grammy-nominated hit "Baby Come To Me," a now classic duet with James Ingram; the Jam-and-Lewis-produced R&B smash "The Heat of Heat;" and the Oscar nominated "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" Austin's 1988 album The Real Me featured a powerful collection of pop and jazz standards. A stint at GRP Records included 1991's Carry On, Love is Gonna Getcha (featuring the across-the-board hit "Through the Test of Time"), That Secret Place and Patti Austin Live, which showcased her amazing standup comedic skills and brilliant impersonations. Her 1998 album In and Out of Love spent almost two years on the contemporary jazz charts. Austin’s most recent record, 2007’s Avant-Gershwin, an adventurous big band rendering of George Gershwin songs celebrating the Gershwin jazz connection has been nominated for two Grammy awards.


    FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2008, at 8 PM

    WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL, 111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

    “A Tribute to Nat King Cole”

    George Benson

    Patti Austin, special guest

    Concert sponsored by - all Acura vehicles park free for the evening; Media sponsor is KCET.

    Tickets ($35 - $135) are on sale now online at, at Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office, or via credit card phone order at 323.850.2000. A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full-time students may be available at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office two hours prior to the performance. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person; cash only. Groups of 10 or more may be eligible for special discounts for selected concerts and seating areas. For information, please call 323.850.2000.

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  • Contact:

    Adam Crane, 213.972.3422,; Lisa Bellamore, 213.972.3689,; Leah Price, 213.972.3406,; For photos: 213.972.3034