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  • GEORGE BENSON RETURNS TO THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL
  • Aug. 27, 2008
  • Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten Perform Tracks from Their Newly Released Album

    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27, 2008, AT 8 PM

    Corporate Sponsor: Fidelity Investments; Media Sponsor: 94.7 The Wave

    Guitar icon George Benson returns to the Hollywood Bowl, Wednesday, August 27 at 8PM, for a night of his most beloved hits. Sharing the bill are three heavyweights of the electric bass, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten, collectively known as SMV, and R&B singer/songwriter Sharon Robinson opens the show.

    As a ten-time Grammy winner, Benson’s skill with the guitar has influenced musicians worldwide. His musical origins are jazz-focused but the early ‘80s saw him through cross-over success in the pop world with “Breezin”, the first jazz record to attain platinum sales. His versatility lends itself to jazz, swing, pop and R&B and the evening is filled with other beloved audience favorites that have flourished from his exceptional career.

    SMV is a collaboration of talent the jazz world has been hungry to see for the last 15 years. Stanley Clarke is nothing short of a living legend, having liberated the bass the way Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker had liberated their instruments before him and continues to live up to his moniker, the Lord of the Low Frequencies. Marcus Miller’s talent struck a chord with such jazz greats as Miles Davis and has led him from Grammy awards to a second career as an acclaimed film composer. Victor Wooten is not only legendary in music but also in the field of education, offering music and life lessons through his popular Bass/Nature Camps in his home base of Tennessee. This bass trio brings a whirlwind of musical knowledge to the stage and delivers blockbuster jams from their newly released album, Thunder.

    A Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer, Robinson is in the third decade of her versatile career and finally bringing her voice to the forefront with her debut solo recording Everybody Knows, after successful movie scoring and songwriting for Leonard Cohen. She starts the show with her inviting, sultry voice, which evokes feelings of hope, romance and sorrow all in the same breath.

    Appreciated as both a musician and performer by millions, GEORGE BENSON has always had the dual role of expert improviser and vibrant entertainer. He has consistently placed his keenly discerning art in the service of a rousing good time. Rounding out his singular approach with sly, seductive rhythm and blues, he’s earned himself an impeccable reputation as one of music’s most enterprising and engaging stars. Few might have predicted that striking level of stardom some forty years ago, when Benson was a fledgling guitarist working the corner pubs of his native Pittsburgh. That’s where his yen to please a crowd was born. “I was an entertainer first,” he says proudly “As a kid I sang, danced, and played the ukulele in a nightclub. As my career has progressed, I’ve had the pleasure of playing with the baddest jazz cats on the planet. But that doesn’t change my desire to entertain folks. That’s really who I am.” It was Wes Montgomery, one of jazz’s most creative players, who came across Benson early on; the vet complimented the young guitarist, urging him to continue his already impressive work. In the early 1960s, Benson apprenticed with organist Brother Jack McDuff; he found the organist’s gritty swing a fertile ground for the sly, confident, and adventurous guitar lines, which earned him an early rep as a master. Montgomery had called one of his best records Boss Guitar. Benson had both the conviction and chops to nip at his hero’s heels; his 1964 debut was released as The New Boss Guitar. It lived up to its title. Benson’s tone was juicy, and his blues solos sparkled with a carefully honed logic. A jaunty funk and swing aesthetic prevailed. “I'd been screaming about my guitar sound for years, and they didn’t want to hear about it. I wanted to use my band in the studio, just get comfortable and test out some stuff. But it was like pulling teeth. The first time I tried to sing along with my guitar, everybody in the studio booed. They all said that it wouldn’t work. When I got with Tommy LiPuma all that changed. He said ‘Sure, let’s go with some vocals, see where we get.’ And you know what happened after that.” What happened was Breezin’, the first jazz record to attain platinum sales. The 1976 blockbuster, his first in a long association with Warner Bros. Records, brought the instrumental title track to jazz radio. And Benson’s soulful update of Leon Russell’s “This Masquerade,” which featured the guitarist scatting along with his solo break, was a pop smash. He followed up with many pop hits, including a sultry version of “On Broadway” and the irresistible “Give Me The Night,” which thrilled many a dancer. Benson was a superstar. These days Benson’s interests are many. He’s often spotted out at Manhattan jazz clubs, checking the action of fledgling guitarists. The most impressive of the lot are sometimes invited back to Benson HQ for jam sessions and stylistic powwows. The guitarist is resolute about keeping the sparkle in his playing. Unfazed by the constrictions of predictability, he’s built a career on sniffing out what people enjoy hearing, and what he enjoys playing.

    In an era where sports fantasy leagues are all the rage comes a real-life historic teaming that serious music fans and bass players have long dreamed of. SMV unites music titans Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten. This unique alliance of three generations of bass gods has been on chat room and fan gathering wish lists for over 15 years, kept alive by periodic statements from all three that schedules permitting they would give it a go. Finally, in October 2007, with Clarke set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from Bass Player magazine, at its annual Bass Player Live! event in New York City, Miller and Wooten made the time to attend and induct their mentor. The ensuing VSOP jam not only blew the minds of the 900 in attendance, it cemented for the trio their inherent musical chemistry and thus the viability of pursuing the project in earnest. As a result, in January 2008, SMV entered the studio to record a CD and put together a summer/fall tour. To their credit, all three members of SMV are equally adept at innovation and collaboration. Clarke is nothing short of a living legend, having liberated the bass the way Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker had liberated their instruments before him. Born in the bass-rich burg of Philadelphia, Clarke headed to New York City right out of college, as a classically-trained acoustic bass virtuoso. Clarke not only split his time between upright and electric bass guitar, he launched the high-end boutique bass guitar market via his use of custom-made Alembic basses. Clarke also extended the range of the electric bass upward, inventing the piccolo and tenor basses in an effort to speak in the range of his musical hero, John Coltrane. Of late, he has been on the road with the Clarke/Duke Band, Rite of Strings, McCoy Tyner, and his own group; and he has the highly-anticipated Return To Forever reunion tour launching in June. Recently-signed to Heads Up International, Clarke has released the DVD, Night School, a star-studded tribute concert touching on all aspects of his extraordinary career, and Toys of Men, his commercially and critically-acclaimed war-conscious CD. Striking a chord with music fans and music critics has been a consistent thread through Miller’s Grammy-winning career. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Miller was raised among jazz royalty (his second cousin is Miles Davis-pianist Wynton Kelly) in nearby Jamaica, Queens. Inspired by his father, church organist William Miller, Miller played piano, organ, clarinet and sax, before gravitating to bass guitar by age 13, in order to get into local bands. In 1992, Miller turned his focus to his solo career with the release of The Sun Don’t Lie and reignited the spark for solo bass albums, setting a new standard in the process. Miller’s six subsequent solo efforts include the Grammy-winning M2, in 2001 (making him the only solo bassist to have ever won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album), plus the biographical DVD, Master of All Trades. Creatively, Miller continues to keep multiple irons in the fire, scoring films and the Chris Rock TV show, Everybody Hates Chris, hosting the North Sea and Playboy Jazz Cruises, and planning a music program talent search—all while keeping up a rigorous touring pace for his latest CD, Marcus. Like Marcus, “Victor” is the lone name needed among bass fans to identify the last great hero of the instrument, Wooten. And also like Miller, Wooten’s musical reach goes far beyond the four-string. Born in Idaho to a military family, and raised on the island of Oahu and on the West Coast, Wooten received bass lessons at age 3 from his brother Regi. By the time he was 5, he had made his stage debut with his four older brothers. In 1988, Wooten moved to Nashville , working with vocalist Jonell Mosser and meeting New Grass Revival banjo ace Béla Fleck. Within a year, Fleck, Wooten, Wooten’s brother Roy (a.k.a. Future Man) and Howard Levy formed the Flecktones, and were on their way to their first of four Grammys to date. Wooten continued his bass focus, first forming Bass Extremes with fretless 6-string savant Steve Bailey, and then releasing the shot heard ’round the bass world: his remarkable 1996 solo debut, A Show of Hands. Meanwhile, seemingly everyone wanted the award-and poll-winning bassist on their project and presently, Wooten is maintaining his dual solo/sideman pace, regularly hitting the road and studio with the Flecktones, Mike Stern and Chick Corea’s Elektric Band. With each of his six solo CDs, Victor Wooten has expanded his musical focus and knack for genre-uniting, via his songwriting, producing and multi-instrumental skills—all while retaining his beacon bass playing. This has never been more evident than on his brand new release, Palmystery. All things considered, SMV appears destined for greatness from the ground up. Perhaps the prospects for the band are best summed up by American Idol’s Randy Jackson, a top bassist himself and a friend to all three: “You’re talking about the three giants of their generations. I can’t wait to hear what those guys come up with!” So keep and eye and an ear out for SMV, sure to pack this summer and fall’s most powerful one-two-three punch!

    A gorgeous, soulful alto that envelopes hooks and harmonies; a musically gifted mind that collaborates with Leonard Cohen; a pop sensibility that earns a Grammy Award with Patti LaBelle (“New Attitude”)--that’s SHARON ROBINSON: singer, songwriter, producer and now artist, with the release of her debut solo recording effort, Everybody Knows. Although Everybody Knows comes in the third decade of her career, Robinson’s talent and versatility behind the scenes as a music producer, songwriter and background vocalist have allowed her to work with a diverse roster of notable artists including Stevie Nicks, Aaron Neville, Morris Day, Robbie Kreiger, Thelma Houston, Brenda Russell, Jennifer Warnes, Randy Crawford, Hamish Stuart and Matthew Wilder. Her co-write of the Top 10 hit “New Attitude” for Patti LaBelle led to three Grammy Award nominations and a win for Best Soundtrack Album (Beverly Hills Cop) in 1985. Her original compositions have also been featured in films such as Wonder Boys, Natural Born Killers, Pump Up The Volume, Stakeout and Wim Wenders’ Land of Plenty. But regardless of what project she’s involved with, her long-time friend and collaborator Cohen is never far out of the picture. This year, Robinson will be a featured background vocalist on his upcoming spring/summer international tour, his first run of live performances since 1993. The set list for the show includes five songs she co-wrote with Cohen, and showcases her arrangements on these co-written works. It’s not surprising that Robinson has worked with such diverse personalities and in so many genres. Her affinity for all kinds of music developed at an early age. Born in San Francisco, her family moved to Los Angeles when she was five. A year later she began studying classical piano, and at age 12 started writing and recording her own songs. As a teenager, she devoured a steady diet of Motown and Atlantic radio hits while working at the family restaurant, and while at home, she listened to such greats as Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Stan Getz and Joni Mitchell. The influence of this musical stew led to Robinson recording a demo at the age of 16, which landed her a recording contract with a label that folded before her album was made. But there was a silver lining. The backing band for her demo was the Jazz Crusaders; and its legendary leader Joe Sample witnessed her ability, encouraging her to continue writing. She went pro in the early seventies as a session singer and then singer/dancer for nine years in Ann-Margret’s Las Vegas revue. Those countless sessions proved fruitful when a recommendation from a fellow singer led to Cohen hiring her as a background vocalist for the famous 1979 “Field Commander Cohen Tour.” Cohen himself dubbed it his best trek ever. While on the road together, he and Robinson co-wrote “Summertime,” a song subsequently recorded by both Diana Ross and Roberta Flack. It was with this composition that she had suddenly elevated herself to the level Sample had envisioned years earlier…officially joining the auteur club that created lasting art beyond fleeting recordings and live shows. When you’re good at what you do, and you do it for others, their success becomes your reward, your place in the mix. It can be a great place to be. For Sharon Robinson, it has been both gratifying and fun. With Everybody Knows, she’s going to another place—out in front. And with her extensive list of achievements and eclectic experiences, Robinson has a pretty good head start on this next artistic journey.

    One of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, with a seating capacity of nearly 18,000, the HOLLYWOOD BOWL has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since its official opening in 1922, and in 1991 gave its name to the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, a resident ensemble that has filled a special niche in the musical life of Southern California. The 2004 season introduced audiences to a revitalized Hollywood Bowl, featuring a newly-constructed shell and stage and the addition of four stadium screens enhancing stage views in the venue. To this day, $1 buys a seat at the top of the Bowl for many of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's concerts. While the Bowl is best known for its sizzling summer nights, during the day California's youngest patrons enjoy "SummerSounds: Music for Kids at the Hollywood Bowl," the Southland's most popular summer arts festival for children, now in its 40th season. Attendance figures over the past several decades have soared: in 1980 the Bowl first topped the half-million mark and close to one million admissions have been recorded. In February 2008, the Hollywood Bowl was named Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue for the fourth year in a row at the 19th Annual Pollstar Concert Industry Awards. The Bowl's summer music festival has become as much a part of a Southern California summer as beaches and barbecues, the Dodgers and Disneyland.

    EDITORS PLEASE NOTE:

    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27, 2008, at 8 PM


    HOLLYWOOD BOWL, 2301 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood



    GEORGE BENSON

    STANLEY CLARKE /MARCUS MILLER/ VICTOR WOOTEN: THE THUNDER TOUR

    SHARON ROBINSON





    Corporate Sponsor: Fidelity Investments; Media Sponsor: 94.7 The Wave

    Tickets ($1 - $95) are on sale now at HollywoodBowl.com, at the Hollywood Bowl Box Office (Tuesday–Saturday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.), or by calling Ticketmaster at 213.480.3232, and at all Ticketmaster outlets. Groups of 10 or more may be eligible for a 20% discount, subject to availability; call 323.850.2050 for further details. For general information or to request a brochure, call 323.850.2000.

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  • contact:

    Lisa Bellamore, 213.972.3689, lbellamore@laphil.org; Leah Price, 213.972.3406, lprice@laphil.org; For photos: 213.972.3034