Sweet soulful sounds from the golden age – as adored in the clubs and classic automobiles of Southern California.
The release of this recording must have surprised most jazz listeners at the time, for trumpeter Kenny Dorham sings on all ten selections. He had never hinted at any desire to sing previously (although he had sung a blues regularly with Dizzy Gillespie & His Orchestra in the 1940s) and, as it turned out, this was his one and only vocal album; the sales were probably quite a bit less than Chet Baker's records of the period. Dorham had an OK voice, musical if not memorable, but the arrangements for these selections (which utilize his trumpet and Curtis Fuller's trombone, both of which are muted all the time) are inventive and pleasing. The supportive rhythm section is also an asset; pianist Cedar Walton made his recording debut on this album, which is a historical curiosity.
Taken from Columbia's multi-volume jazz primer, this is not bad for a single-company compilation. The selections split down the middle between George Benson's early 1965-1966 Columbia albums and his 1971-1976 CTI output that Columbia now controls; the gaps are obvious but the title of the series neatly narrows the scope of the survey. We hear the young, eager Benson in four cuts from It's Uptown and only two from the superior George Benson Cookbookincluding the spectacular "The Cooker" – before sampling a cut apiece from CTI's Beyond the Blue Horizon, Bad Benson, Good King Bad, and In Concert-At Carnegie Hall.