Benny Golson to Bring the Bop

Philadelphia-born saxophonist and composer Benny Golson will play Anthology tonight.

Golson, who was born in 1929, is known for writing in the bebop/hard bop styles, and he has a long history with jazz. For starters, he went to high school with John Coltrane and other Philly greats. In a 2009 interview with NPR, Golson said of Coltrane, "John and I were like blood brothers ... we spent our time in my living room, listening to lots of 78 [rpm] records, trying to figure out what was going on. And we had a beat-up piano in the corner.... We really annoyed the neighbors."

After college, Golson joined Bull Moose Jackson's rhythm and blues band, an experience that would shape his writing for the rest of his life. He went on to work with legends like Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey. As a composer, Golson is probably best known for writing "I Remember Clifford," a eulogy to his friend and former bandmate Clifford Brown, who died in a car crash in 1956. In the 1960s, Golson took a break from jazz and focused on composition, penning the scores for television shows like M*A*S*H and The Six Million Dollar Man.

Golson's talents have not gone unrecognized: He has received the Jazz Masters Award of the National Endowment for the Arts, he's been inducted into the International Academy of Jazz Hall of Fame, and he even appeared with Tom Hanks (as Hanks' character's musical hero) in the film The Terminal.

In 2009, the 80-year-old Golson also released a new album, called New Time, New 'Tet. For the album, he recreated the setup of his legendary 1960s band -- the Jazztet -- with new members. The critically acclaimed album debuted at No. 8 on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums.

Check him out at Anthology on April 23 at 7:30. It should be worth your while. Get your tickets here.

T. Loper is a writer for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear.

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