Benny Golson, Saxophonist
Multitalented and internationally famous jazz legend, composer, arranger, lyricist, producer and tenor saxophonist of world note, Benny Golson was born in Philadelphia, PA on January 25, 1929. Raised with an impeccable musical pedigree, Golson has played in the bands of world famous Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Earl Bostic and Art Blakey. Few musicians can claim to be true innovators and even fewer can boast of a performing and recording career that literally redefines the term "jazz," yet Benny Golson is among their rare number, as evidenced by contributions to the standard jazz repertoire as: "Killer Joe", "I Remember Clifford", "Along Came Betty", "Stablemates", "Whisper Not", "Blues March", "Five Spot After Dark", and "Are you Real?" These jazz standards have found their way into countless recordings internationally over the years and are still being recorded by musicians across generations.
He has recorded over 30 albums for various recording companies in the United States and Europe under his own name, and innumerable albums with other major artists. A prodigious writer, Golson has written well over 300 compositions.
For more than 55 years, Golson has enjoyed an illustrious, musical career in which he has not only made scores of recordings but has also composed and arranged music for: Count Basie, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Mama Cass Elliott, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Shirley Horn, David Jones and the Monkees, Quincy Jones, Peggy Lee, Carmen McRae, Anita O'Day, Itzhak Perlman, Oscar Peterson, Lou Rawls, Mickey Rooney, Diana Ross, The Animals (Eric Burden), Mel Torme, and George Shearing.
His prolific writing includes scores for hit TV series and films such as: M*A*S*H, Mannix, Mission Impossible, Mod Squad, Room 222, Run for Your Life, The Partridge Family, The Academy Awards, The Karen Valentine Show, television specials for ABC, CBS and NBC, television specials for BBC in London and Copenhagen, Denmark, the theme for Bill Cosby's last TV show, and a French film, 'Des Femmes Disparaissent" (Paris).
Benny Golson has absolute mastery of the jazz medium. He has not only blazed a trail in the world of jazz but is passionate about teaching jazz to young and old alike. He has lectured at the Lincoln Center through a special series by Wynton Marsalis. He has also lectured to doctoral candidates at New York University and to the faculty at National University at San Diego.
Golson's musical odyssey has taken him around the world. In 1987 he was sent by the US State Department on a cultural tour of Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, Singapore. Later, Philip Morris International sent him on an assignment to Bangkok, Thailand to write music for the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.
He continues to impress critics, fans and fellow musicians with his prodigious contributions to the world of jazz. He was recently honored at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. with an 80th birthday concert (January 24, 2009), and Concord Jazz has just released two Golson recordings: “New Time, New ’Tet,” and “The Best of Benny Golson,” a retrospective CD of a man and musician beyond category.