George Benson on being discovered

Now, A Jazz Moment?

MUSIC: "Shadow Dancers" (Brother Jack McDuff), CD: The Essential George Benson, Columbia/Legacy 69699 85215 2 (disc 1, cut 2)

In 1962, NEA Jazz Master George Benson got his first chance at the big leagues when organist Jack McDuff invited him to audition for his band.

George Benson: He started playing, and I started playing. He said, "Wait a minute. Hold it. Just a minute." And he got on the phone and he called his manager in New York. He said, "Man, I've found this kid and he's only," he asked me, he said "How old are you?" I said "Nineteen." He said, "He's only 19years old! I'm bringing him to New York!" And I said, "Wait a minute, Mr. McDuff. I've got to tell you, I'm going to jail today." (laughs)

Unfortunately, Benson had recently been in an altercation and was to appear in court later that very day. He tried to explain it all to McDuff.

George Benson: He said, "Will money do you any good?" And I said, "I don't know." So he gave me $35. And that?s what got me outa that case. The judge let me pay the cost of the court ?cause I told him I had a job offered to me and it would take me out of town and he would never see me again. He liked that. So he gave me a break and let me pay the cost of the court. And there I had my gig with Jack McDuff.

MUSIC: up and fades

This Jazz Moment with guitarist George Benson was created by the National Endowment for the Arts.

George Benson on being discovered