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George Benson with Boney Jones
Few living jazz musicians have enjoyed the broad acclaim of George Benson, and fewer still are likely to in the future. The implosion of the record industry and the marginalization of jazz in our popular culture -- notwithstanding the recent crossover success of bassist-vocalist Esperanza Spalding and pianist-bandleader Robert Glasper -- have made Benson's career quite the anomaly.
So as he sees his 70th birthday not far in the offing -- he reaches that milestone next March -- Benson can look back with some satisfaction at having emerged at the right time, and with the right gifts.
"I can't complain, because I came along just before that happened," says Benson, referring to the ravages of the record business in the digital age.
"I sold millions of records and I saved my pennies and we did well. I think they eventually will figure out how to turn it into a money machine again," adds Benson, who plays the Chicago Theatre on Friday night on a bill with Boney James.
"They made some terrible mistakes. They didn't jump on it (the Internet) fast enough, and now people get records for free and people are losing fortunes every day. "But like everything else, it will find its place. Nothing we can do about that."
7:30 p.m. Friday at Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St.; $39.50 to $250; 800-745-3000, thechicagotheatre.com or ticketmaster.com