January 31, 2010

Gone With Golson

Gone with Golson
Tenor saxophonist Benny Golson (born 1929) got off to a fast start. Even while attending high school in Philadelphia, he was already playing with the likes of John Coltrane, Red Garland, and Philly Joe Jones. Philly (the city) was hopping with jazz at this time. Of Coltrane, Golson said in a 2009 interview: “John and I were like blood brothers. I was 16 when I met him, he was 18. And we spent our time in my living room, listening to lots of 78 records, trying to figure out what was going on.” It's amusing to picture this scene because it represents a typical sort of episode in a teenager's life, even today, as well as a “primordial soup” moment in the evolution of jazz.
     From the mid to late 1950s, Golson toured with Tadd Dameron, Lionel Hampton, Johnny Hodges, and Art Blakey. He then was co-leader of the famous Jazztet with trumpeter Art Farmer. Golson also wrote the classic tunes “I Remember Clifford” (written after the untimely death of Clifford Brown) and “Stablemates” (first recorded by Miles Davis). I particularly recommend the three albums he did as a leader for Prestige Records in 1959: Gone With Golson, Getting’ With It, and Groovin’ With Golson, all with Curtis Fuller on trombone. These are overshadowed hard bop classics, with Golson’s solos propelled forward with pulsing momentum but also displaying a big warm tone. “Staccato Swing” from Gone With Golson is a great example.
     During the sixties, when the commercial support for jazz largely disappeared, Golson, like many jazz musicians, went to work for the movie and television studios, writing music for the TV series M*A*S*H, Mission: Impossible, Mod Squad, and, yes, even The Partridge Family. In the 1980s, he returned to playing jazz gigs and he is still recording and touring regularly.

No comments:

Post a Comment