Benny Golson (born January 25, 1929) is an American bebop/hard bop jazz tenor saxophonist, composer, and arranger. He came to prominence with the big bands of Lionel Hampton and Dizzy Gillespie, more as a writer than a performer, before launching his solo career. Golson is known for co-founding and co-leading The Jazztet with trumpeter Art Farmer in 1959. From the late 1960s through the 1970s Golson was in demand as an arranger for film and television and thus was less active as a performer, but he and Farmer re-formed the Jazztet in 1982.
In addition to “I Remember Clifford“, many of Golson’s compositions have become jazz standards including “Blues March“, “Stablemates“, “Whisper Not“, and “Killer Joe”. He is regarded as “one of the most significant contributors” to the development of hard bop jazz, and was a recipient of a Grammy Trustees Award in 2021.
Golson began learning the piano at age nine, then switched to the saxophone when he was 14. While a student at Benjamin Franklin High School in Philadelphia, he played with several other promising young musicians, including John Coltrane, Red Garland, Jimmy Heath, Percy Heath, Philly Joe Jones, and Red Rodney. After graduating from Howard University, Golson joined Bull Moose Jackson‘s rhythm and bluesband; Tadd Dameron, whom Golson came to consider the most important influence on his writing, was Jackson’s pianist at the time.
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