The Segerstrom Center for the Arts Presents George Benson

Written By: Mary McNulty

Photos Provided By: Segerstrom Center for the Arts

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts provides a venue so beautiful that legendary jazz Guitarist George Benson wants to take it with him. A remark that came almost immediately as he arrived upon the stage for the  concert that took place March 27.

Benson electrified the crowd from the opening with his classic “Breezin’.” There was no doubt that the audience was there with a single goal, simply to be entertained by the ten-time Grammy winner and his remarkable band. The energy level in the room reflected that sentiment with one audience member shouting, “I love you George!” His response? He flashed that bright smile and strutted his stuff!

His hands were too small during his youth to play the guitar, so Benson started out playing the ukulele. It is almost impossible to believe Benson has been performing for fifty years. The enthusiasm displayed when scatting to “Broadway” or playing “Turn Your Love Around” is still there. And it was certainly not lost on the audience. On numerous occasions throughout the concert, people were on their feet dancing and singing. Audience participation was spontaneous with a number of ovations throughout.


Helping to keep it fresh is the mix of the band. Some members have played with Benson for years while newer members are given an opportunity to strut their musical ability. No one seized the chance as well as Lilliana de los Reyes, the band’s newest member. A percussionist and vocalist, de los Reyes provided backup for numerous songs most notably “Masquerade.” The vocalization made the version especially haunting. Other members highlighted throughout the performance include musical director and keyboardist David Garfield, bassist Stanley Banks, guitarist Michael O’Neill and keyboardist Thom Hall and drummer Khari Parker.

The technological aspects of the venue did not go unnoticed. The sound system ensured each Benson lick and scat clearly resonated throughout the venue. The lighting showed off the beautiful blue jacket and black tuxedo pants Benson wore, and brightly displayed the various instruments of the band. Again, it’s hard to believe such a full sound can be generated by six to seven artists.

For the jazz lover who missed this performance, I’m sorry. Luckily, Benson is not the only jazz legend scheduled this season. It is amazing how The Segerstrom Center for the Arts  consistently provides legends in their area of expertise. George Benson is just one to perform this season.

June 4 and 5 — Herb Alpert and Lani Hall
October 9 — Poncho Sanchez and Eddie Palmieri
October 10 — Ramsey Lewis and Sergio Mendes
October 11 — Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club

Every scheduled date is a legendary performer and should not be missed by any jazz fan.

Nothing compares with the location of Segerstrom Center for the Arts and the many shopping and dining options it offers all within walking distance. Better yet make it an extreme evening by valet parking and having dinner at Leatherby’s located in The Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts

600 Town Center Dr
Costa Mesa, CA 92626 | 714. 556.2787

About The Author

Never went to the same elementary school twice. Admittedly it was pretty cool always being the new kid. Ruled both Stone Mountain High in Stone Mountain, GA and the San Miguel dorm at UC Santa Barbara during my tenure. After my college freshmen year in Atlanta my Dad was transferred to CA. No way was I staying in the Southeast alone. After all we had lived in almost every Southeastern state. Born in Tennessee. Moved to Alabama. Moved to Florida. Moved to Ohio –definitely out of our element. Moved to Atlanta –Stone Mountain-and amazingly went to the same high school until graduation. Moved to CA in ’75 basically in three locations. Without a doubt the best place and time was as a college student at UC Santa Barbara. Shocker huh? Had the rough experience of living in the dorm. I lived in the eight floor “Penthouse” for two years. One year the room overlooked the campus lagoon where at 6 am the Crew Team would yell “Stroke!” The other year simply overlooked the Santa Barbara coast. Spent far too long in a career without passion but no longer. So here is to living the passion regardless of age.

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