This Masquerade – 1976 – George Benson

This Masquerade - George BensonGeorge Benson and his 16th album, Breezin’, put guitar jazz onto the charts – well, it put jazz guitar onto my charts anyway!

discovering jazz

So, it’s 1976.  I’m in my last year of high school and diggin’ all things musical – well, most things.  To this point, I’ve never really cottoned onto jazz.  Not that real improvised-type jazz, that’s for sure, but things can change.

George Benson Breezin'I’m not sure who introduced me to the album but the second I heard it, I wanted it!  George Benson’s Breezin’.  Breezin’ was not, by the way, George’s first album.  Sure, it began his period of greatest commercial success but, believe it or not, it was his 16th album.  (And, I know that for purists George isn’t real jazz, but it opened my ears to this genre and I discovered some good stuff).

upsetting grannie

So, like I said, it’s 1976.  My old Gran hates popular music and she makes sure we know it.  “Yowlers,” is how she refers to anyone born after 1850 who even attempts to sing.  I reckon I might have something that will change her mind, however.  Breezin’ and the title track, This Masquerade, are so smooth and laidback, I’m convinced she’ll have to admit they’re not too bad.

Wrong!  I’m at Gran’s place.  I’ve got my new Breezin’ album and I’m putting it on her old radiogram.

“Listen to this, Gran,” I say, being careful to have it not too loud.

Gran explodes, “Yowlers!  Can’t understand a word they’re saying.”

“That’s ‘cause they’re not saying anything, Gran.  Breezin’ is an instrumental.”

But it’s too late, Gran’s gone already.  If she’d stayed for the next track she would have heard This Masquerade, and I’m pretty sure she’d have understood the lyrics – hmmm, maybe not.

this masquerade fax

  • This Masquerade - George bensonLeon Russell wrote This Masquerade.  Leon’s version of the song has featured on the soundtrack of two movies; The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) and The Bug (2007).
  • The song’s album version was over eight minutes long.  George Benson’s single version was cut down to 3 minutes 18 seconds.
  • This became George’s first big hit.  He was, by this time, a widely respected jazz guitarist but this was his first visit to the singles charts.
  • This Masquerade reached number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 and number three on the Hot Soul Singles chart.
  • In 1977 George won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year with his version of This Masquerade.
  • In addition to Leon and George, This Masquerade has been recorded by many artists including, Helen Reddy, The Carpenters, Shirley Bassey, Willie Nelson, Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’77, No Mercy, and Kenny Rogers.
  • This Masquerade lyrics.
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