Swing with ge­orgie

Need a night out with top notch R&B and smooth jazz? Ge­orge Ben­son is your man.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE - By AZHARIAH KAMIN

Ge­orge Ben­son to per­form at the Royal Char­ity Gala Din­ner at the Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur this Fri­day.

LIV­ING leg­end Ge­orge Ben­son at­tributes his longevity in the mu­sic scene to him con­tin­u­ously mak­ing mu­sic. “Mak­ing mu­sic helps you stay young. You keep mov­ing, re­hears­ing and keep your­self sur­rounded by young tal­ents. They make you think young thoughts,” said 67-year-old jazz gui­tar vir­tu­oso dur­ing a phone in­ter­view last week.

“Well, apart from liv­ing a clean life, too.” Hum­ble and pleas­ant on the long dis­tance line from Phoenix, Ari­zona, in the United States, the ver­sa­tile mu­si­cian shared some of his ex­pe­ri­ences while talk­ing about his two up­com­ing con­certs here this week­end.

Ben­son and his six-piece band are due to per­form at the Royal Char­ity Gala Din­ner at the Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur this Fri­day to mark the 80th birth­day of the Sul­tan of Pa­hang. The show aims to raise RM1.2mil for the poor.

He will also per­form at the Arena of Stars in Gent­ing High­lands this Sun­day.

Sound­ing ex­cited, Ben­son said that he and his band are set to give Malaysian fans a great time at the con­certs.

“The con­certs will be dif­fer­ent from my pre­vi­ous per­for­mances in Malaysia. But the clas­sic songs will still be in there be­cause they are re­quested (by the fans) all the time. We will do a few things that we didn’t do when we were in KL last time,” said Ben­son with­out di­vulging the de­tails.

“In fact we are very anx­ious to let you hear what we can do for the con­certs,” said Ben­son who was last here in 2007 for a pri­vate func­tion at the Seri Per­dana in KL.

“But se­ri­ously, all my con­certs are dif­fer­ent from one an­other. The reper­toire changes some­what to fit into the mood I get from the au­di­ence. It all de­pends on the mood (on stage) as I don’t have a set pro­gramme. The band and my­self do not know what I’m go­ing to play un­til I’m on stage,” he said with a laugh.

Ben­son added that as a per­former, his sat­is­fac­tion is just in­de­scrib­able when he sees his au­di­ences hav­ing a great time.

“It’s the au­di­ence and their en­thu­si­asm for our songs that re­ally keep the whole con­cert en­er­getic.

“We are look­ing for­ward to re­quests from them,” said Ben­son, whose record­ing ca­reer be­gan at the age of 21 as a jazz gui­tarist.

These days he is bet­ter known as an R&B and smooth jazz singer. His hits in­clude Give Me The Night, Turn Your Love Around, In Your Eyes and This Mas­quer­ade.

Born and raised in the Hill District in be held along Changkat Bukit Bin­tang in Kuala Lumpur from 7pm on­wards.

The London-raised Lewis, a for­mer X Fac­tor win­ner, is the hot ticket as she makes an ap­pear­ance in Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­va­nia, Ben­son started out play­ing straight-ahead in­stru­men­tal jazz with or­gan­ist Jack McDuff and recorded his first al­bum The New Boss Gui­tar in 1964.

The eight-time Grammy win­ner, born in 1943, first played the ukulele at the age of seven and by the age of 10, had recorded his first sin­gle, She Makes Me Mad.

He re­called that when he was young he didn’t be­lieve it when peo­ple were telling him of his mu­si­cal gifts.

“When I was seven years old, I played ukulele on street cor­ners and they called me lit­tle ‘Ge­orgie Ben­son’ and they told me that one day my name would be im­por­tant to the mu­sic busi­ness. But I never be­lieved it. It took town on the back of her sec­ond al­bum Echo.

While her de­but Spirit in 2007 cat­a­pulted her to in­ter­na­tional su­per­star­dom, sold over 6.5 mil­lion al­bums and made Lewis a star on both sides of the At­lantic, her new ma­te­rial is no less im­pres­sive.

Her new sin­gles Happy and I Got You are ob­vi­ous favourites along­side Bleed­ing Heart, her sig­na­ture tune to get the masses on their feet.

Else­where, you have Aus­tralian elec­tro-pop twin sis­ters Jes­sica and Lisa Origliasso, bet­ter known as The Veron­i­cas, to add a spunky edge to Volk­swa­gen’s street launch date. Two al­bums – The Se­cret Life Of ... and Hook Me Up – have made The Veron­i­cas an edgy and en­joy­able propo­si­tion on stage.

Just for the rock ‘n’ roll fac­tor, Volk­swa­gen has al­ready di­aled the right num­ber with these tal­ented girls.

Lo­cal artistes, fea­tur­ing bands and dee­jay crews, such as Arabyrd, Atilia, Bit­ter­sweet, Twi­light Actiongirl, Ky­oto Pro­to­col, Mix­ing In Ac­tion, DJ Fuzz, Twinkies, Ten­der­fist and many more are also part of the night’s launch ac­tiv­i­ties. me years to be­lieve it when peo­ple started to re­act and to be­lieve in my record­ings,” said Ben­son who cites Nat King Cole, Billy Ein­stein, Jackie Wil­son, Frank Si­na­tra and Tony Ben­nett as his mu­si­cal he­roes.

And af­ter all these years, Ben­son said he will keep mak­ing mu­sic as long as he still can.

His gala din­ner show ta­bles are avail­able with do­na­tions of RM50,000, RM30,000, RM20,000 or RM10,000 per ta­ble. For more in­for­ma­tion, call % 03-2070 4923, 09-567 6997 or e-mail mas­fa­tini@ya­hoo.com. For his Arena of Stars con­cert, tick­ets are on sale at RM60, RM90, RM140, RM190 and RM250 per per­son. Call % 03-2718 1118 or log on to (www.rw­gent­ing.com).

The Veron­i­cas and elec­tro hip hop per­former Arabyrd (pic left) will add a spunky edge to the Volk­swa­gen event. Bri­tish singer Leona Lewis will pro­vide

the main at­trac­tion at the AreYou Volk­swa­genE­nough? street launch.

El­e­ment of sur­prise: ‘All my con­certs are dif­fer­ent from one an­other,’ says Ge­orge Ben­son.

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