Jazz’s Mad Men
George Benson / George Duke / Billy Cobham / Norman Connors / Tom Browne / Bernard Wright / Don Blackman / Lenny White / Marcus Miller / Weldon Irvine / Phil Cohran
George Benson entered the music business as a child singer. Never considering himself just a guitar player, he nonetheless honed his jazz chops playing with organist Jack McDuff and Lonnie Smith in the 1960s. His solo and side work with Columbia, Verve, and CTI helped Benson develop the most distinguished guitar tone in the jazz world. But that was never enough. In 1975, Benson signed with Warner Brothers and became a bona fide singer and pop star—incidentally helping to father smooth jazz along the way.
The Royal Road
Keyboardist George Duke had his ecclectic beginnings playing with Frank Zappa’s band. Then he conquered the funky jazz scene on Germany’s MPS label. After a now-legendary short stint with drummer Billy Cobham, Duke forged a new path and ruled the R&B charts with eccentric funk.
Pick Up Sticks
Billy Cobham was the most technical and disciplined drummer to ever stay in the pocket. His precise rhythms would not only usher in the era of jazz fusion but would help the genre stay grounded and funky. Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, George Duke, and even Souls of Mischief all have Cobham and his masterful stickwork to thank.
He was a young drumer trying to keep up in the serious world of spiritual jazz. Then Norman Connors traded the rigorous life for expensive cars, fashion models, and R&B hits.
Rising from the fertile musical soil of Queens, New York, a group of musicians formed a tight bond and called themselves the Jamaica Kats. Under the tutelage of elders Weldon Irvine and Lenny White, the Kats perfected a modern fusion of jazz and funk, culminating in trumpeter Tom Browne’s 1980 hit,
“Funkin’ for Jamaica”
(Phil Cohran is the embodiment of spiritual jazz) A mainstay on the Chicago scene, he came up playing with Jay McShann and Sun Ra. And now he’s found a perfect harmony in the cosmos.
After making waves with a slew of psychedelic rock releases, Mainstream Records embraced a funky bunch of modern jazz players and soul singers. Stellar art direction and the vision of producer Bob Shad would navigate the label to a
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Bobby Robinson 1917–2011
Towson State University Jazz Ensemble, Randy Weston, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Los Exciters, Fred Tompkins
Can’t Stop the Prophet
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