Cause there’s music in the air | And lots of lovin’ ev’rywhere | so give me the night.” – George Benson
On a Saturday afternoon in the fall of 1980, a young jazz lover went to Evergreen Plaza (aka Everblack Plaza) in Chicago and purchased his first album, George Benson’s “Give Me The Night” and also a really fly cream-colored velour v-neck sweater. Fast forward 23 years, wow!! I still have the album and I am listening to it right now. As for the sweater, let’s just that time brings about a change in all of us. This album feels as new as did in 1980 and it is definitely one of my favorites. I was no stranger to Benson’s music as loved to play my dad’s copy of “Breezin” featuring the classic hit “Masquerade.”
The title track “Give Me The Night” and “Love X Love” were quite popular on the R&B radio stations while “Star Of The Story”, “Love Dance”, “Turn Out The Lamplight”, and “Midnight Love Affair” were a favorite of the late evening quiet storm formats. Benson’s soulful remake of “Moody’s Mood” introduced me to a woman I would later love, Patti Austin. His instrumentals “Dinorah, Dinorah” and “Off Broadway” showcased his masterful guitar playing. Benson is backed on this album by some of the finest musicians and vocalists of the day including George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Greg Phillinganes on keyboards, Lee Ritenour on guitar, Paulinho da Costa on percussion, and Diva Gray, Jocelyn Brown, Jim Gilstrap, and Patti Austin on backing vocals.
At the helm of all of this wonderful music was producer Quincy Jones who wrote this about Benson in the liner notes:
“If George had never sung a note in his life, his guitar could have done his singing for him and certainly no one would have thought there was anything lacking. But sing he did, and on this record he shows that he is light years beyond being a guitar player who also sings.”
“Give Me The Night” was also the debut album on Jones’ new record label, Qwest Records and won 3 Grammy Awards for Benson and Jones picked up a Grammy for his arrangement of “Dinorah, Dinorah.”