Q (1/01, p.122) - 3 out of 5 stars - "...There's a soul element here....Go straight to be-bop blues classic 'Billie's Bounce' or the 'What's New' alternate takes for modern jazz guitar at its finest."
Personnel: George Benson (guitar); Tom McIntosh (conductor); Eileen Gilbert, Albertine Robinson, Lois Winter (vocals); Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone); Jimmy Owens (trumpet, flugelhorn); Ernie Royal, Snooky Young (trumpet); Alan Raph (bass trombone); Herbie Hancock (piano); Eric Gale, Carl Lynch (guitar); Ron Carter, Bob Cranshaw (bass); Billy Cobham (drums); Johnny Pacheco (congas, tambourine).
Producer: Esmond Edwards.
Reissue producer: Bryan Koniarz.
Recorded at A&R Recording Studios and Capitol Recording Studios, New York, New York from February 5-7, 1968. Includes liner notes by Nat Hentoff.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
This is part of Verve's By Request series.
This reissue of Benson's 1968 Verve LP is worth the price of admission just for three of the small-group cuts. "Billie's Bounce," "Low Down and Dirty," and "Thunder Walk" find the guitarist stretching out in the company of Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Billy Cobham on an uptempo Charlie Parker blues, a gutbucket slow blues and a deeply blue hard-bop groove tune, respectively. This recording sits right between Benson's early small-combo records as a leader (COOKBOOK and IT'S UPTOWN) and his move to even more heavily produced recordings for CTI.
The grooves are groovy, the horns are punchy, and the then-future of jazz guitar makes his way through the charts as feature artist, laying down the head, shadow boxing with the swaggering arrangements for a chorus or two, and getting out in a radio-friendly two minute and fifty-nine seconds. Plus you get to hear Benson and Hancock duking it out like they mean it on "Low Down and Dirty."