JAZZ / ALBUM REVIEWS : Benson, Mathis Pay Tribute to Count Basie, Ellington

*** GEORGE BENSON "Big Boss Band" Warner Bros.

Had it not been for commercial considerations, this collaboration with the Count Basie Orchestra could have been at least a four-star venture. As it is, almost every cut involves Benson's latter-day Johnny Mathis vocals. Some of Frank Foster's charts for the band are splendid, and a couple of Benson's scatting-with-guitar forays work well. Two cuts are not even by the Basie band at all; one is a funk blues studio group, the other a Robert Farnon string ensemble.

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