Benny Golson Quartet
@ PizzaExpress Jazz Club
12 July 2019
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The consummate musical and lyrical storyteller…
In 1951 Golson got his first job with Bull Moose Jackson’s
band, where he met Tadd Dameron (who pointed him in the right direction
as a composer and arranger) and Philly Joe Jones. In 1953 Golson
had the opportunity of playing again with Dameron in a group including
Clifford Brown, Gigi Grice, Cecil Payne and Philly Joe Jones, and
later the same year he joined Lionel Hampton’s Big Band, and
was recommended by John Coltrane to play in a short-lived large
band led by Johnny Hodges. From 1954 to 1956 he played in Earl Bostic’s
band, and in June of 1956 joined Dizzy Gillespie.
During this period he composed tunes like I Remember Clifford
or Stablemates, and formed a group with Kenny Dorham, J.J. Johnson,
Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Max Roach, recording for Jazzland
the LP Reunion, which included classic examples of his skills as
a composer and arranger, like Out of the Past, Venetian Breeze and
Blues on Down.
From February 1958 to February 1959 Golson played with Art Blakey’s
Jazz Messengers, and contributed with his arrangements and compositions
to define the style of the late great drummer’s band: tunes
like Are You Real?, Along Came Betty, The Drum Thunder Suite and,
especially Blues March became landmarks of the Messengers’
repertory. In July 1959, Golson formed his own quintet: trumpet
player Art Farmer joined the band late the same year, and one of
the most influential groups of the sixties was born: THE JAZZTET.
In 1962 Golson recorded for Mercury his most celebrated composition,
Whisper not, included in the LP Tonk.
Between 1964 and 1966, Golson travelled to Europe, worked for
the British television, appeared in many Jazz Festivals, and wrote
the soundtrack for a movie in Munich. From this point on, Golson
concentrated more and more in his career as a composer and arranger:
in 1967 worked for the Universal Studios in Los Angeles, and from
1968 on he wrote music for singers such as Peggy Lee, Lou Rawls,
Nancy Wilson, Sammy Davis, Diana Ross and O.C. Smith.
Golson has also written music for many TV series, such as Mash
or Bill Cosby’s Show. In the classical idiom Golson has written
a concerto (premiered ad Lincoln Center, New York), a violin piece
for Itzhak Perlman (also premiered at Lincoln Center) and a piano
composition for André Watts.