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Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | Concord Records

Distinctions 3F de Télérama
At age eighty, tenor saxophonist, composer and band leader Benny Golson is still going strong, and although he experienced a few lean years, is very much a force on the modern mainstream jazz scene in the years of the 2000s. He has revived the spirit of his original Jazztet, co-founded with the late trumpeter Art Farmer, on several occasions since the ensemble was originally founded in 1959. This edition features a strong front line of Golson, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, and trombonist Steve Davis, players from different generations who completely understand the hard and post-bop language. The rhythm section is even more delicious, with pianist Mike LeDonne, peerless bassist Buster Williams, and younger drummer Carl Allen working together in the best sense of that ideal. As one of the more literate, articulate, and outspoken representatives of the jazz world, Golson continues to translate it into a broader base of influences. "Verdi's Voice" is a Baroque type waltz with harder edges from LeDonne and Williams, while the layered horn sections are at once kinetic and static. The rustic ballad "L'Adieu" with Henderson's muted trumpet echoes Chopin. In an uncomplicated romp that sounds Russian, "Gypsy Jingle-Jangle" bumps up to a fast hard bop like the original Jazztet, with Golson unshackled and flying. As a democratic leader focused on balance, Golson is happy to give the other bandmates their space, as Davis fronts "Grove's Grove" in a laid-back groove à la Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, with the leader's quiet resolve present on an observant solo. "Uptown Afterburn" is another prototype, an unapologetic hard bopper, a new tune that could easily have been done by the Jazztet of the '60s. Al Jarreau joins the band for an unhurried take of Golson's all-time classic "Whisper Not," with vocal comping and a cute second chorus. The Sonny Rollins standard "Airegin" is covered well, not as fast as it has been known, starting with the striking bass/piano ostinato tandem lines that immediately grab any listener and pulls him in -- a device that codifies modern jazz. A killer version of Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy" is a stroke of genius, as Golson's unique arrangement has Williams and LeDonne again locked in, with Allen's brief solo warming to a churning rhythm that leaps out of the speakers, with the sextet punching through the melody in heavyweight fashion. Golson can also write soft, silky ballads as "From Dream to Dream" with Henderson's musings and the tenor man sighing, while "Love Me in a Special Way" has the muted trombone tones of Davis lifting up the wise and mature tenor of Golson. In the end, the watchwords for this recording are erudite, refined, intelligent, and above all, sophisticated. Appreciative veteran jazz lovers will want this excellent set of straight-ahead jazz from one of the true masters who needs to reclaim or affirm nothing in his decades as one of the true legends in American music. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Verve Reissues

Renamed Turning Point upon one of its reissues, this quartet set for tenor saxophonist Benny Golson was the beginning of the close of an era. Within a year, Golson would be working full-time as a writer in the studios, and he de-emphasized his playing until making a comeback in the late 1970s. Golson is heard on this LP for one of the last times playing in his original Don Byas/Lucky Thompson-influenced style. Joined by pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, Golson performs two originals, plus five superior standards, including "How Am I To Know," "Three Little Words" and "Alone Together." A rewarding but sadly out-of-print set. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1990 | Concord Records, Inc.

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1992 | Concord Records, Inc.

Benny Golson's second album as a leader (reissued on CD in the OJC series) is a solid hard bop date featuring the tenorman in a quintet with trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Max Roach. The all-star group performs three Golson originals (none of which really caught on), a pair of Gigi Gryce tunes (best known is "Hymn to the Orient") and the standard "Namely You." Excellent playing on an above-average set that defines the modern mainstream of 1957 jazz. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Blue Note Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | Concord Records, Inc.

Shortly before the formation of The Jazztet, tenor-saxophonist Benny Golson and trombonist Curtis Fuller teamed up for this quintet set with pianist Ray Bryant, bassist Tommy Bryant and drummer Al Harewood. Although Golson contributed three of the six songs ("Blues After Dark" is the best-known one), the emphasis is on his playing; the tenor is quite heated on the uptempo blues "Jam for Bobbie." The CD reissue adds "A Bit of Heaven" (originally on a sampler but part of the same session) to the original program, a fine example of hard bop of the late '50s. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released November 28, 2014 | Legacy Recordings

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | Concord Records, Inc.

Tying in with his cameo appearance in Steven Spielberg's film The Terminal, saxophonist Benny Golson returns with Terminal 1. Featuring more of his sophisticated and swinging tunes, the album finds Golson in top form on some of his best compositions in years. Joining him on the front line here are esteemed trumpeter Eddie Henderson, deft pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist Buster Williams, and drummer Carl Allen. The title track is a mid-'60s-sounding angular piece designed to bring to mind the hustle of airports. Similarly engaging is the gorgeous ballad "Park Avenue Petite," which allows for some burnished melodicism from Henderson. It is also nice to hear Golson and company dig into the under-recorded standard "Cherry." Calling to mind the best Blue Note-era recordings, Terminal 1 is one flight of fancy not to be missed. ~ Matt Collar
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Blues - Released November 9, 1997 | LucasRecords

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1995 | Concord Records, Inc.

Benny Golson leads a potent quintet in this 1959 studio date; the tenor saxophonist is joined by pianist Tommy Flanagan, trombonist Curtis Fuller, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Art Taylor. Golson's snappy arrangement of "Baubles, Bangle and Beads" features Fuller's fine mute work and Flanagan's upbeat inventive solo before he introduces his big-toned tenor into the mix. Golson's slight vibrato and Taylor's swirling brushwork are highlights of his interpretation of "April in Paris." The remaining three tracks are all originals by the leader: the up-tempo hard bop cooker "Blue Streak," the jaunty strut "Tippin' on Thru," and the extended blues "Bob Hurd's Blues," which will get anyone's feet tapping. This is one of Benny Golson's best dates as a leader because one not only gets to enjoy his always strong arrangements, but his consistently first-rate tenor sax solos. Highly recommended. ~ Ken Dryden
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Bebop - Released April 15, 2016 | HighNote Records

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Jazz - Released February 1, 1993 | Dreyfus Jazz

Tenor-saxophonist Benny Golson reunites with his longtime associate Curtis Fuller for this enjoyable set of hard bop. With assistance from pianist Kevin Hays, bassist James Genus, drummer Tony Reedus and (on "Blues March") trumpeter Jean-Loup Longnon, Golson and Fuller both sound very much in their musical prime. The tenor's sound at this point had become quite a bit harder than previously, at times fairly close to Archie Shepp's, but he swung as hard as ever. Fuller in contrast is unchanged from his earlier days. Together they play in top form on six of Golson's compositions plus Fuller's "A La Mode" and Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way." ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1988 | Fantasy Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1992 | Concord Records, Inc.

This is one of at least four recordings that matched up tenor saxophonist Benny Golson and trombonist Curtis Fuller prior to the formation of the Jazztet; ironically, Fuller only stuck around for one Jazztet record before departing. Reissued on CD, the LP-length program has two lesser-known Golson compositions along with "Drum Boogie," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," and "Yesterdays." Three of the tunes are blues, and the two ballads are taken at a medium-tempo pace. With pianist Ray Bryant, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Art Blakey forming a solid rhythm section, the hard bop music does indeed groove in its own fashion. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1977 | Columbia - Legacy

This album broke Golson's long hiatus in America and reintroduced him to the domestic jazz audience, but it wasn't quite the hit for him as for Quincy Jones. ~ Ron Wynn
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Concord Records, Inc.

Benny Golson was moved by the death of bop trumpeter Clifford Brown to pen the classic "I Remember Clifford." Now presented with the opportunity to do an album in honor of his old friend, Golson assembles a sextet and presents an album that takes the idea of "I Remember Clifford," thoroughly updates it, and extends it across an hour of great music on this disc. Redoing his best-known tune as "Brown Immortal," Benny also does a remake of "Five Spot After Dark," long a set list staple. Golson's horn is pure honey, sounding every bit as wonderful at age 69 as many players would hope to be at half his age. Trading solos with tenor saxman Ron Blake, trumpeter John Swana, and pianist Mike LeDonne, Peter Washington adds fine string bass support while Joe Farnsworth pushes the beat along, kicking in all the right places and never overplaying. Tito Puente and Carlos "Patato" Valdes make guest appearances on Golson's "Tito Puente," but where Golson and company really shine are on new tracks like "Horizon Ahead" and the closer, "Ever More." These two spirited tracks show that Golson's playing is still edgy when need be and still philosophical on tracks like "Lullaby of Birdland" and the ballad "You're the First to Know." With some great music on tap, there's no level at which this album does not succeed. ~ Cub Koda
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1997 | Concord Records

Although the International Jazz Orchestra (which was arranged and conducted by Benny Golson) recorded their parts for this album on July 14, 1964, some of the soloists were dubbed in later that year. Golson, who does not play at all on this set, seemed inspired by the large instrumentation -- a full orchestra with trumpets, trombones, French horns, several English horns doubling on oboes, five reeds, up to six additional flutes and a pianoless rhythm section -- and his charts (six of his originals and three standards) are both inventive and full of subtle surprises. Among the many highlights are Golson's reworkings of "Are You Real," "Waltz for Debby" and "I Remember Clifford." This underrated set is recommended. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2009 | Universal

Benny Golson's acclaim as a player and composer is widespread in the jazz community, and this collection has been issued as part of a celebration of his eightieth birthday. It bookends his career, with many large ensemble selections from 1957 and 1958 in his pre-Jazztet days, and a few cuts from the 1980s onward with a second edition of the Jazztet, and select small combos. Trumpeter Art Farmer was his longtime partner in the original Jazztet, and he is featured, as is trombonist Curtis Fuller, the one musician who has worked with Golson through his entire career. Surprisingly, this reissue featuring nine tracks includes only six of the dozens of songs written by Golson, two standards, and a prototypical hard bop, stereo separated composition of Gigi Gryce, "Reunion," with an immortal democratic sextet featuring Max Roach, J.J. Johnson, and Kenny Dorham. While not a definitive "best-of" compilation, it does offer an interesting mix as to why Benny Golson is one of the all-time great jazz artists in the second half century of the music. The late-'50s sessions are the most valuable, and include the all-time classic "Whisper Not," a light blue traipse with a nonet, the elegant bopper "Are You Real?," and the basic 12-bar tiptoe tune "Blues After Dark," all signifying the epitome of cool. Fuller's presence is undeniable as Golson's main foil on most of the six tracks from his early years, especially during the cover of "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," with ultimately passive voicings from the horns jolted by an occasional quick 3/4 burst, and swimming with Detroit masters Tommy Flanagan on his ever vivacious and classy piano, and bassist Doug Watkins for a ballad treatment of "April in Paris." The final three selections are from 1986, 1997, and 2004, including a revived and spirited Jazztet with Fuller and Farmer on a live nine-and-a-half minute version of "Along Came Betty," a two-tenor infused studio version of "Five Spot After Dark" with Ron Blake, and the all-time hit "Killer Joe" with muted trumpeter Eddie Henderson ably abetting Golson in a composed display of reserved watching and warning -- keep at least one eye open for that devilish "Killer Joe"! Pianist Mike LeDonne cut his teeth with Golson, and is a standout on the final two selections. Without the Argo/Chess and Mercury label recordings of the Jazztet, his contributions as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, or many other great compositions Golson has written, this cannot be a comprehensive greatest-hits package, but it does serve as a very good primer for those who have still not yet discovered what a grand master he truly is. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Jazz - Released May 10, 1993 | Dreyfus Jazz

This live session recording was made in 1989 as Benny Golson and his group were performing in Porto Maggiore, Italy. With live sessions there's a special vitality and excitement that's missing from a studio recording as the players feed off each other and the audience. Not constrained by time limitations or technical barriers, the quartet lets its collective hair down for 67 minutes of intelligent, but somewhat subdued, improvisation. The program consists of five tunes, three of them Golson compositions, two of which are his most popular pieces. With this short play list there's plenty of time and opportunity for each to get a thorough exposition, and that's accomplished without becoming repetitive. Consistent with Golson's approach to the music, somewhere between Don Byas and John Coltrane, there are no wild rides into the realm of free or avant-garde. In no way sedate, Golson shows that tenor playing can be exciting without resorting to musical anarchy. His work on his own "Along Came Betty" provides a vehicle for Golson to shape the performance to meet his mood at the time, which seems to be one of serenity. Golson has played this tune with much more vigor on other occasions, especially as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. The tune also provides a major vehicle for the piano of Mulgrew Miller, as he playfully quotes from "Mexican Hat Dance." The sax man and prolific composer's lesser known "Jam the Avenue" recalls Golson's days in his native Philadelphia and, as the title suggests, comes off as a true jam session with a major statement from Golson. The tour from which this session comes must have been a long one, since the members of the group work as if they have been together for a long time. Typical of a hard bop session, the drumming of Tony Reedus is urgent and demanding, while Miller's piano shines, both comping underneath Golson's tenor and in solo. Peter Washington's bass works hard to make sure matters don't get out of control. This is a good, solid quartet recording. ~ Dave Nathan
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R&B - Released November 28, 2014 | Legacy Recordings

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