Benny Golson: Killer Joe

25 Jan


Today is the 82nd birthday of saxophonist Benny Golson, another in the long line of Philadelphia-bred jazz musicians (one of his albums was Benny and the Philadelphians). Graduated from Howard University and played with Tadd Dameron and Lionel Hampton and Dizzy Gillespie in the ’50s.

In the ’60s, he moved to Hollywood and wrote for many of the TV shows of the late ’60s and early ’70s — M*A*S*H, Mannix, Mission Impossible, Room 222, The Partridge Family (no, no, no, Come On, Get Happy is not his. We presume.).

But he returned to jazz after, and has been playing and composing ever since.  Has written some of the genre’s most memorable songs, including I Remember Clifford, which Golson wrote after hearing of the death of trumpeter Clifford Brown, 25, in a car crash in 1956. John Hendricks later added lyrics to the song:

I only know that I hear him now
And I believe that I always will
You’ve got to believe
I remember Clifford still, yes I hear him still
I know he’ll never be forgotten
He was a king uncrowned

Golson also wrote Killer Joe (listen below), Stablemates, Whisper Not, Five Spot After Dark, etc., etc.

Critic David Rosenthal: “In a sense, artists like Benny Golson may represent what modern jazz would have been had the bebop revolution not taken place under the sign of radical innovation.”


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