Picks and Pans Review: Give Me the Night
updated 09/08/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 09/08/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT
That's a groove Benson is in, not a rut. In this, his first collaboration with master arranger Quincy Jones, he de-emphasizes his guitar, showcases his singing and goes down-tempo. There are only two instrumentals (with incidental scatting by Benson), but that shouldn't bother anyone. Benson's singing style is variously reminiscent of everyone from Nat Cole, Dave Lambert and Sarah Vaughn to Johnny Mathis and Stevie Wonder. Yet it has a unique warmth and sensitivity that allows him to do more than justice to tunes like Love Dance, by Paul Williams and Ivan Lins, and Turn Out the Lamplight, which is by Rod Temperton, who supplied five songs for this LP. Benson also duets effectively with Patti Austin on Moody's Mood, a 1967 piece by James Moody and Eddie Jefferson. Jones' arrangements are quiet and understated. The mood is the epitome of what used to be called cool jazz. The only problem for listeners is a happy one—trying to decide whether Benson is a great jazz guitarist who also sings, or a great jazz singer who also plays guitar.