Hump Day Slow Jam of the Week: George Benson, “Give Me the Night”

The Singer: The line between smooth jazz and slow jams got a lot thinner when guitarist George Benson released 1976’s Breezin’. Benson came up playing with organist Brother Jack McDuff and guested on Miles Davis’ Miles in the Sky, but Breezin’ and its hit “This Masquerade” recast Benson from ace guitarist to husky-voiced R&B star. He scored hits with “Turn Your Love Around” and “Lady Love Me (One More Time),” and his rendition of the Drifters’ “On Broadway” became the definitive version.

The Song: Produced by Quincy Jones, “Give Me the Night” shimmers with the anticipation of a night on the town. The quick, jazzy strokes of Benson’s guitar give way to some scat-inflected singing, and the airy background vocals help give the song an echo-y fog.

The Video: The clip for “Give Me the Night” is mostly a mimicked live performance of the song, but the director chose to intersperse it with some sweet beachfront rollerskating scenes.

Hipster Cachet: Benson recorded the first version of “The Greatest Love of All” for the 1977 Muhammed Ali biopic The Greatest. Seven years later, Whitney Houston would turn it into her signature song.

-- Christian Schaeffer

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