Benny Golson Biography

25 January 1929, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. After receiving tuition on the piano as a child, Golson began playing tenor saxophone professionally in 1951 in Bullmoose Jackson’s R&B band. It was here that he first met Tadd Dameron, who had a great influence upon his writing. In the early and mid-50s he played in bands led by Dameron, Lionel Hampton and Earl Bostic, then worked for Dizzy Gillespie, playing in and arranging for the 1956-58 big band. Next, Golson became a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, for whom he composed several tunes. He later formed bands with Curtis Fuller and Art Farmer (the Jazztet), then went into the studios, writing for films and television but making occasional appearances on record sessions and on jazz stages around the world. In the late 70s he returned to regular live work and toured Europe with a reunited Jazztet in 1982. The following year he recorded an acclaimed tribute album to his old Philadelphia jamming partner, John Coltrane.

Golson’s playing, which followed the melodic progression of late swing era stylists such as Lucky Thompson and Don Byas, was always effective. He remains best known, however, for his writing and some of his compositions have become latter-day jazz standards: ‘Blues March’, ‘Killer Joe’, ‘Whisper Not’ and ‘I Remember Clifford’.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.