For many years now, George Benson has been a much-welcomed guest of North Sea Jazz. He became well-known to a larger audience with his R&B hit Give Me the Night, produced by Quincy Jones. Music lovers know him best as one of the most dexterous guitarists in the history of jazz. “In the end, it’s all about the songs and the stories. They keep the music alive for me,” Benson says in an effort to explain the secret of his longstanding career. “If you come up with a great melody and can put the right lyrics alongside it, I will get excited straightaway.” This explanation also clarifies the title of his latest album, Songs and Stories, released in August 2009. The album contains a collection of songs written by singers and songwriters he admires very much, among whom: James Taylor, Smokey Robinson, Lamont Dozier, Bill Withers and Donny Hathaway. Some songs were written especially for the album, others were handpicked by Benson from existing material. He produced the album together with John Burke and the legendary bassist Marcus Milles, who could be seen and heard at North Sea Jazz only last year. Benson himself graced the North Sea Jazz stage in Rotterdam in 2009. This year he will honor the first edition of the Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival with his presence in the World Trade Center in September 2010.