George Benson gets back to Americana basics on ‘Walking to New Orleans‘, the legendary jazz guitarist’s double-barreled tribute to both piano-pounding Crescent City hit machine Fats Domino and the original rock guitar hero and poet, Chuck Berry.
“I’m a great appreciator of the music made by both of those guys,” says Benson, who reanimates their genius with his signature soulful vocals and buttery solos. “Chuck Berry was a great showman and a great musician, and Fats Domino cut nothing but hit after hit after hit.”
The Chuck Berry songbook is represented on ‘Walking’ by “Nadine (Is It You?),” “You Can’t Catch Me,” “Havana Moon,” “Memphis, Tennessee,” and “How You’ve Changed.” Fats Domino weighs in with “Rockin’ Chair,” “Ain’t That a Shame,” “I Hear You Knocking,” “Blue Monday,” and the album’s iconic title track.
‘Walking to New Orleans’ is Benson’s first recording since 2013’s ‘Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole.’ But where Benson embellished Cole’s cool tunes with lush orchestral arrangements, ‘Walking’ found Benson hunkering down in Ocean Way Studios on Music Row with a quartet of first-call Nashville cats: drummer and music director Greg Morrow, guitarist Rob McNelley, pianist Kevin McKendree, and bassist Alison Prestwood. Producer Kevin “The Caveman” Shirley (Journey, John Hiatt, Iron Maiden) was at the controls.
‘Walking to New Orleans’ is George Benson’s 45th album, and few sound quite as loose-limbed and flat-out fun as this one. “We did have us a ball making this record,” he admits.