Gary Benson

Gary Benson was respected by his peers as “one the hardest swinging players on the jazz scene" and made a significant contribution to jazz in Toronto in a distinguished career spanning three decades.

Whether backing up a long list of jazz vocalists, including such luminaries as Peggy Lee, and Natalie Cole, or playing with other jazz groups and jazz greats including Peter Appelyard and Ed Bickert, Benson set a consistently high standard of excellence. He worked at both the Stratford Festivall and Shaw Festivals, and was seen frequently in television appearances.

In 1989, Benson founded  the Canadian Jazz  Quartet (CJQ) with percussionist Don Vickery, and, with the addition of vibist Frank Wright, and bassist Duncan Hopkins, the CJQ became one of Canada’s most consistent swinging jazz groups.

Gary collaborated with Douglas Harrison in 2002 on the Harrison GB Model. This instrument is an intriguing performance-oriented new jazz guitar design that lends itself to customization and molding to the player's specific musical needs.

These cuts are from the Canadian Jazz Quartet's Brazilian Reflections CD. They showcase Gary playing his Harrison GB, which features a maple neck and body with a spruce top, ebony fingerboard, tailpiece, and pickguard, and a Duncan Seth Lover pickup.

Gary Benson 1939-2014

I had the good fortune to know Gary for many years as a teacher, performer, customer, and friend. I am proud to have created the G.B. model with Gary’s input. To have Gary perform and record with these guitars was a real highlight in my career — Doug Harrison